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



Ariana Sanchez

Postdoctoral Fellow

BA, Chemistry, Seattle University

PhD, Cell and Molecular Biology, Stanford University


Jinglin Zhu

Postdoctoral Fellow

BA, Biology, Shandong University

PhD, Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Sonal Joshi

Postdoctoral Fellow

BSc, MSc, Biotechnology, Institute for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Pune University

PhD, Immunology, International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Trieste, Italy


Madeline McCanne

PhD Student

BA, Chemistry, Cornell University


Trishna Patel

PhD Student

BA, Molecular and Cellular Biology, UC Berkeley


Alex Morse

Specialist Scientist

BA, Molecular Biology, Pomona College


Dillon Pang

Specialist Scientist

BS, Biology, UC San Diego


Annika Bai

Undergraduate Intern

BS in progress, Chemistry and Biochemistry, UC Santa Barbara

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: Please send Roarke an email with your CV and transcripts if you are interested in working in the lab

Junior Specialists: Please apply at this link.

Selected Publications and Preprints

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.

Tycko, J., Van, M., Aradhana, DelRosso, N., Yao, D., Xu, X., Ludwig, C., Spees, K., Liu, K., Hess, G.T., Gu, M., Mukund, A.X., Suzuki, P.H., Kamber, R.A., Qi,  L.S., Bintu, L.#, Bassik, M.C#. Development of compact transcriptional effectors using high-throughput measurements in diverse contexts. bioRxiv.

Amaya, L., Abe, B., Liu, J., Zhao, F., Zhang, W.L., Chen, R., Li, R., Wang, S., Kamber, R.A., Tsai, M.C., Bassik, M.C., Majeti, R., Chang, H. 2024. Pathways for macrophage uptake of cell-free circular RNAs. Molecular Cell, 84(11).

Ahn, G., Riley, N., Kamber, R.A., Wisnovsky, S., Moncayo von Hase, S., Bassik, M.C., Banik, S.M. and Bertozzi, C.R., 2023. Elucidating the cellular determinants of targeted membrane protein degradation by lysosome-targeting chimeras. Science, 382(6668).

Chen, Y., Craven, G.B., Kamber, R.A., Cuesta, A., Zhersh, S., Moroz, Y.S., Bassik, M.C. and Taunton, J., 2023. Direct mapping of ligandable tyrosines and lysines in cells with chiral sulfonyl fluoride probes. Nature Chemistry, pp.1-10.

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

June 2024

Sonal Joshi joins the lab as a postdoctoral fellow, Madeline McCanne joins the lab for her PhD thesis work, and Annika Bai joins as a summer intern. Welcome, all!

Sonal joins us following completion of her PhD at ICGEB in Trieste, Italy, where she worked on mechanisms of macrophage recognition of cancer cells. 

Madeline graduated from Cornell and subsequently worked as a Research Technician at Massachusetts General Hospital before joining the BMS graduate program.

Annika is a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara and has conducted research at Stanford, Jackson Labs, and UCSB. She joins us through the Emerson Collective First-Gen Interns program. 

Welcome, Sonal, Madeline, and Annika!!!

The lab also receives funding from the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center through their Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy pilot grant program and a Hevolution Foundation Gerosciences Research Opportunities Grant.

January 2024

Jinglin Zhu joins the lab as a postdoctoral fellow, and Trishna Patel starts her rotation. Welcome!

Jinglin joins us following completion of his PhD at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, where he worked on mechanisms of lipid regulation and ferroptosis in C. elegans

Trishna graduated from UC Berkeley and subsequently worked as a Junior Specialist in the Brain Tumor Center at UCSF before joining the BMS graduate program. 

Welcome, Jinglin and Trishna

The lab also is grateful to receive additional funding support including a Longevity Impetus grant, an HF-GRO grant from the Hevolution Foundation, and a New Frontiers Award from the Sandler Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research.

October 2023

Ariana Sanchez joins the lab as the lab's first postdoctoral fellow. Welcome!

Ariana joins us from Genentech, where she worked for two years as a Scientist developing high-throughput immune-cell/cancer co-culture assays and receptor interactome discovery methods. Prior to that, she completed her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at Stanford University, where she established proximity labeling methods in living organisms. Welcome, Ariana! 

The lab is also grateful to receive additional funding support from the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, the Glenn Foundation/AFAR, the UCSF Liver Center, and the CRISPR Cures for Cancer Initiative. 

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!


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Medical Sciences Building, Rm S-1349A

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