Marc Jenkins

Regents and Distinguished McKnight University Professor


Marc Jenkins has had an illustrious career in immunology, marked by significant contributions to our understanding of T-cell biology. A native of Minnesota, Marc embarked on his academic journey by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota (UMN) in 1980. Following his undergraduate degree, Marc did doctoral research at Northwestern University, where he worked with Stephen Miller on delayed-type hypersensitivity.

Marc's postdoctoral training under Ronald Schwartz at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was transformative for the field of immunology. During this period, he demonstrated the critical importance of a costimulatory signal for T cells to achieve full activation and avoid a state of anergy, a term used to describe T-cells rendered unresponsive to antigen stimulation. This discovery fundamentally reshaped the prevailing understanding of T-cell activation mechanisms, paving the way for further investigation into the molecular mechanisms governing T-cell activation and immune tolerance.

Since joining the faculty of the University of Minnesota's Microbiology Department in 1988, Marc's research has been marked by significant contributions to the field of immunology, particularly in the realm of CD4+ T cell biology. His research endeavors have been instrumental in unraveling the complexities of immune responses and shedding light on critical mechanisms underlying T cell activation and memory formation. His work has been instrumental in identifying key receptors like CD28, which play crucial roles in modulating T cell activation and function, elucidating the mechanisms underlying T cell responses to antigens in the body. His group at the University of Minnesota showed that antigen-specific CD4+ T cells first become activated in the central part of lymph nodes, then migrate to B cell-rich follicles and non-lymphoid organs, and documented the cellular changes that produce immune memory.

Currently, Jenkins' research focuses on unraveling the mechanisms underlying CD4+ T cell activation, memory cell formation, and immune protection. By leveraging insights from basic immunology discoveries, he aims to develop strategies for improving vaccine efficacy and preventing undesirable immune responses, such as transplant rejection and autoimmunity. Through his work, Jenkins continues to advance our understanding of the immune system, with the ultimate goal of translating these insights into clinical applications that benefit human health.

Throughout his career, Jenkins has been honored with prestigious awards recognizing his contributions to immunology, including the Pew Scholar Award, the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Meritorious Career Award, the AAI Excellence in Mentoring Award, and the AAI Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a past President of the AAI and a member of the inaugural class of AAI Distinguished Fellows.

In 2020, Jenkins achieved another milestone by being elected to the National Academy of Sciences, a testament to the significance and impact of his research. Notably, he became the first faculty member from the UMN Medical School to receive this honor in 50 years, underscoring his exceptional standing in the scientific community.

Beyond his scientific endeavors, Jenkins enjoys various hobbies such as bicycling, fishing, supporting Minnesota sports teams, and spending time with his grandchildren, showcasing his well-rounded personality and interests outside of the laboratory.

Research Summary

The Jenkins lab is working on research that is focused on CD4+ T and B cell activation in vivo by directly tracking antigen-specific cells. The goal of this research is a basic understanding of lymphocyte activation that can be used to improve vaccines and prevent autoimmunity.  View the full list of publications here.

Teaching Summary

University of Minnesota

  • Course/Lecture List
      1990 - present  Course Director and Lecturer, MICA 8003 Immunity and Immunopathology                               
  • Program Design
      1994-1995        Organizing Committee, Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Pathobiology Ph.D. program (now known as Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology) 

American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Course/Lecture
        2007-2014      Lecturer, AAI Advanced Course in Immunology                                      
        1998-2003      Lecturer, AAI Advanced Course in Immunology                                                                                                        
        2004-2009     Lecturer, AAI Basic Course in Immunology            
Woods Hole Laboratory of Oceanography
       2010-2014       Lecturer, Biology of Parasitism Course                                                     


Ph.D., Northwestern University, Chicago
Major: Immunology
B.S., University of Minnesota, Microbiology

Honors and Recognition

Elected Member , National Academy of Sciences
Lifetime Achievement Award, American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
Excellence in Mentoring Award, American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
Regents Professor, University of Minnesota (UMN)
Carole J. Bland Outstanding Faculty Mentoring Award , University of Minnesota
Deans Distinguished Research Lecturer, UMN Medical School
Senior Investigator Award, UMN Medical School
Distinguished Lecture, 95th Annual Meeting, American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
NIH NIAID MERIT Award, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Distinguished Lecture, AAI Basic Course in Immunology, American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
Academy for Excellence in Health Research, University of Minnesota AHC
Institute for Scientific Information Highly Cited Researcher
Award for Outstanding Contributions to Post-baccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education , University of Minnesota
AAI Meritorious Career Award, American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
Distinguished McKnight University Professor Award, University of Minnesota
Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences Award, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Full List of Publications.
McElwee MK, Dileepan T, Mahmud SA, Jenkins MK, 2023. The CD4+ T cell repertoire specific for citrullinated peptides shows evidence of immune tolerance. . Journal of Exp Medicine, 2023 Dec 4;220(12):e20230209
Osum KC, Jenkins MK., 2023. Toward a general model of CD4+ T cell subset specification and memory cell formation.. Immunity, 2023 Mar 14;56(3):475-484.
Nettersheim FS, Ghosheh Y, Winkels H, Kobiyama K, Durant C, Armstrong SS, Brunel S, Roy P, Dileepan T, Jenkins MK, Zajonc DM, Ley K., 2023. Single-cell transcriptomes and T cell receptors of vaccine-expanded apolipoprotein B-specific T cells.. Front Cardiovasc Med, 2023 Jan 5;9:1076808.
doi: PubMed ID: 36684560.
Künzli M, O'Flanagan SD, LaRue M, Talukder P, Dileepan T, Stolley JM, Soerens AG, Quarnstrom CF, Wijeyesinghe S, Ye Y, McPartlan JS, Mitchell JS, Mandl CW, Vile R, Jenkins MK, Ahmed R, Vezys V, Chahal JS, Masopust D., 2022. Route of self-amplifying mRNA vaccination modulates the establishment of pulmonary resident memory CD8 and CD4 T cells.. Sci Immunol., 2022 Dec 9;7(78):eadd3075.
doi: PubMed ID: 36459542.
Hong SW, Krueger PD, Osum KC, Dileepan T, Herman A, Mueller DL, Jenkins MK., 2022. Immune tolerance of food is mediated by layers of CD4+ T cell dysfunction.. Nature, 2022 Jul;607(7920):762-768.
Pape KA, Dileepan T, Matchett WE, Ellwood C, Stresemann S, Kabage AJ, Kozysa D, Evert C, Matson M, Lopez S, Krueger PD, Graiziger CT, Vaughn BP, Shmidt E, Rhein J, Schacker TW, Bold TD, Langlois RA, Khoruts A, Jenkins MK., 2022. Boosting corrects a memory B cell defect in SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-vaccinated patients with inflammatory bowel disease.. JCI Insight, 2022 Jun 22;7(12):e159618.
doi: PubMed ID: 35730567.
Pape KA, Dileepan T, Kabage AJ, Kozysa D, Batres R, Evert C, Matson M, Lopez S, Krueger PD, Graiziger C, Vaughn BP, Shmidt E, Rhein J, Schacker TW, Khoruts A, Jenkins MK., 2021. High-affinity memory B cells induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection produce more plasmablasts and atypical memory B cells than those primed by mRNA vaccines.. . Cell Reports, 2021 Oct 12;37(2):109823
Dileepan T, Malhotra D, Kotov DI, Kolawole EM, Krueger PD, Evavold BD, Jenkins MK. , 2021. MHC class II tetramers engineered for enhanced binding to CD4 improve detection of antigen-specific T cells.. Nat Biotechnol., 2021 Aug;39(8):943-948.
doi: PubMed ID: 33941928.
Nelson SA, Dileepan T, Rasley A, Jenkins MK, Fischer NO, Sant AJ., 2021. Intranasal Nanoparticle Vaccination Elicits a Persistent, Polyfunctional CD4 T Cell Response in the Murine Lung Specific for a Highly Conserved Influenza Virus Antigen That Is Sufficient To Mediate Protection from Influenza Virus Challenge.. Journal of Virology, 2021 Jul 26;95(16):e0084121.
Matchett WE, Joag V, Stolley JM, Shepherd FK, Quarnstrom CF, Mickelson CK, Wijeyesinghe S, Soerens AG, Becker S, Thiede JM, Weyu E, O'Flanagan SD, Walter JA, Vu MN, Menachery VD, Bold TD, Vezys V, Jenkins MK, Langlois RA, Masopust D., 2021. Cutting Edge: Nucleocapsid Vaccine Elicits Spike-Independent SARS-CoV-2 Protective Immunity. . . J Immunol., 2021 Jul 15;207(2):376-379.



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