Functional Genomics and Cell Biology of Macrophages

Macrophages are immune cells that maintain the homeostasis of all tissues by eliminating more than 200 billion damaged or senescent cells every day via phagocytosis. As we age, however, aberrant cells accumulate and give rise to a wide range of diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration, and atherosclerosis. Why macrophages fail to clear unwanted cells in the context of age-related diseases is not known. 

Despite our incomplete knowledge, therapies have been developed that can be used to treat disease by stimulating macrophages to precisely eliminate specific cell populations from the body. These therapies have transformed treatment outcomes in some diseases, including certain autoimmune diseases and a subset of lymphomas. However, the potential of macrophages as engineered cell therapies remains largely untapped.

Our work is driven equally by curiosity about the diverse forms and functions of phagocytosis in nature and a motivation to enable new treatments for people suffering from incurable diseases. Some of the questions we are interested in are:

To answer these questions, we develop powerful genetic screening approaches to discover molecules that regulate macrophage function and apply biochemical, cell biological, and in vivo experiments to understand how these components work at a mechanistic level. We are particularly interested in genes, metabolites, and processes that have not been studied before and which may point us to entirely new avenues for disease intervention. 


Roarke Kamber

Assistant Professor

BS, Stanford University

PhD, Harvard University

Postdoc, Stanford University



Alex Morse

Junior Specialist

BA, Molecular Biology, Pomona College


Dillon Pang

Junior Specialist

BS, Biology, UC San Diego


Meredith Fenyo

Undergraduate Researcher

BS in progress, Biology, Stanford University


Madeline McCanne

BMS Rotation Student

BA, Chemistry, Cornell University

Arianna Doss

Faculty Assistant

BS, Public Health, San Francisco State University

There are openings in the lab for scientists from a wide range of backgrounds. 

Postdoctoral Fellows: Please send Roarke an email with your CV, a cover letter, and contact information for 3 references. 

PhD Students: We are affiliated with the UCSF Biomedical Sciences and Tetrad Graduate Programs. Prospective students are encouraged to apply to these programs. Admitted students who are interested in learning more about the lab or in a rotation should email Roarke

Undergraduates: Though we are full for summer 2023, please reach out if you are interested in conducting research in the lab beginning fall 2023. 

Junior Specialists: Please apply at this link.

Selected Publications

Vorselen, D.*, Kamber, R.A.*, Labitigan, R.L.D., van Loon, A.P., Peterman, E., Delgado, M.K., Lin, S., Rasmussen, J.P., Bassik, M.C.#, Theriot, J.A#. Cell surface receptors TREM2, CD14 and integrin αMβ2 drive sinking engulfment in phosphatidylserine-mediated phagocytosis. bioRxiv (2022).

Kamber, R.A., Nishiga, Y., Morton, B., Banuelos, A.M., Barkal, A.M., Vences-Catalan, F., Gu, M., Fernandez, D, Seoane, J.A., Yao, D., Liu, K., Lin, S., Spees, K, Curtis, C., Jerby-Arnon, L., Weissman, I.L., Sage, J., Bassik, M.C., 2021. Inter-cellular CRISPR screens reveal regulators of cancer cell phagocytosis. Nature, 597(7877), pp.549-554.

Wainberg, M.*, Kamber, R.A.*, Balsubramani, A.*, Meyers, R.M., Sinnott-Armstrong, N., Hornburg, D., Jiang, L., Chan, J., Jian, R., Gu, M., Shcherbina, A., Dubreuil, M.M., Meuleman, W., Spees, K., Snyder, M.P., Bassik, M.C., Kundaje, A., 2021. A genome-wide atlas of co-essential modules assigns function to uncharacterized genes. Nature Genetics, 53(5), pp.638-649.

Kamber, R.A.*, Shoemaker, C.J.* and Denic, V., 2015. Receptor-bound targets of selective autophagy use a scaffold protein to activate the Atg1 kinase. Molecular Cell, 59(3), pp.372-381.

Latest News

September 2023

Dillon Pang joins the lab as a Junior Specialist, and Madeline McCanne starts her rotation in the lab. Welcome!

The lab also bids farewell for now to An and Manu as they head back to their respective campuses for the fall term.  Thank you for all your contributions to starting the lab!


513 Parnassus Ave

Medical Sciences Building, Rm S-1349A

San Francisco, CA 94143