Graduate School of Medical Sciences
A partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute

Katharine Hsu

The Hsu laboratory studies natural killer (NK) cells, the molecules that control their ability to recognize and kill cancer and virally infected cells, and their potential for cell therapy.


Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes with the innate capacity to recognize and eliminate virally infected cells and tumors. They express an impressive array of inhibitory and activating receptors on their surface that govern the activity of the individual cell as it interacts with potential target cells. Meanwhile every NK cell is not like the other. Each potentially expresses a different permutation of receptors, programming varying capacities for response in a process known as NK education, leading to a highly diverse NK repertoire. Interestingly, certain populations of T cells have long been recognized to express NK receptors. It is becoming increasingly clear that these T cells may adopt innate immune features characteristic of NK cells.
The Hsu laboratory uses a combination of approaches including genetic, molecular, functional and computational to study NK development and to identify receptor-ligand interactions that dictate NK cell education, NK cell repertoire formation, and interaction with diseased cells. The laboratory is also focused on cellular events following receptor engagement, including how changes in metabolism impact NK function. Using information gained from these studies, the Hsu laboratory is designing novel therapies for the treatment of cancer.

Current Projects:

  • Education
  • NK and NK-like T cell therapies
  • Development
  • Metabolism
  • NK cells and bone marrow transplantation


Hsu completed her undergraduate training at Stanford University, her MD-PhD training at Cornell University Medical College, her Internal Medicine residency training at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and her fellowship training in Hematology/Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She performed post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Bo Dupont. She has been a faculty member of Weill Cornell Medical College since 2002 and is a Professor and Member of Immunology & Microbial Pathogenesis at WCGS.


  • American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • Association of American Physicians
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar
  • Graduate School Alumni Award of Distinction, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences
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