Alex Marson’s research goal is to understand the genetic circuits that control the function of cells in the human immune system, especially T cells. Marson and colleagues have developed new tools to accomplish efficient genome engineering in primary human immune cells with CRISPR. With this technology scientists can now readily re-write specific sequences in human cells and interrogate the biological effects. These advances in genome editing will accelerate fundamental insights into how immune cells are "wired" and have potential to enhance the next generation of cell-based immunotherapies for cancer, infectious diseases, organ transplantation and autoimmune diseases.

Disease Areas

Autoimmune Diseases
Cancer Immunotherapies
Infectious Diseases

Areas of Expertise

CRISPR Genome Engineering
Functional Genomics
Human Genetics
Working in the Marson lab

Lab Focus

Developing new tools for efficient genome engineering in primary human immune cells.
Pursuing a comprehensive strategy to test how coding and non-coding genetic variation controls functional programs in the immune system.
Performing functional genetic studies of host-pathogen interactions in primary human immune cells.

Research Impact

Marson’s team is pioneering new CRISPR gene editing technologies that offer faster, cheaper and more precise ways to re-write DNA programs in human immune cells. With these tools, the lab is engineering cells to treat a wide range of diseases. They are designing programs to make cells that can recognize and eliminate cancer, cells that are resistant to infections like HIV, and cells that can reduce inflammation in autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Reprogrammed human immune cells are emerging as a new class of “living” medicines.


Professional Titles

Director, Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology

Associate Professor, Medicine, UCSF


Alexander Marson, MD, PhD, is the director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology, a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes, and an associate professor in the Departments of Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF.

Marson is interested in how DNA controls the behavior of cells in the human immune system. He uses the power of CRISPR technology to genetically engineer cells to fight cancer, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases.

He completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University, and earned an MPhil in biological sciences from Cambridge. He earned his PhD at Whitehead Institute at MIT, where he worked with mentors Rick Young and Rudolf Jaenisch on transcriptional control of regulatory T cells and embryonic stem cells.

After completing his MD at Harvard Medical School and an internship and residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Marson joined UCSF in 2012 to complete clinical work as an infectious diseases fellow. He started his lab as a Sandler Faculty Fellow, before joining the faculty at UCSF and becoming scientific director of biomedicine at the Innovative Genomics Institute. He is also a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator and member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Honors and Awards

2019 American Society of Clinical Investigators (ASCI) Member

2016 NIH/NIDA Avenir New Innovator Award

2016 Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Career Award for Medical Scientists

2016 American Society of Clinical Investigators (ASCI) Young Physician-Scientist Award

2010 James Tolbert Shipley Prize for Excellence and Accomplishment in Research, Harvard

2009 Sigma Xi, MIT


More Publications


Alex Marson

Lab Members

Maya Arce
Graduate Student
Sagar Bapat, MD, PhD
Clinical Fellow
Franziska Blaeschke, MD
Daniel Carr
Research Associate I
Yan Yi Chen
Research Associate I
Veronica Cruz
Research Assistant
Rama Dajani
Research Associate I
Stacie Dodgson, PhD
Scientific Project Manager
Vigneshwari Easwar Kumar, MS
Research Associate II
Maxwell Foisey
Rotation Student
Dana Foss, PhD
Jacob Freimer, PhD
Visiting Postdoc
Christian Garrido, MS
Research Associate III
Daniel Goodman
Rosmely Hernandez, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Joseph Hiatt
Visiting Scientist
Patrick Hsu, PhD
Madeline Layeghi
Research Associate I
Youjin Lee, PhD
Benjamin Lesch
Graduate Student
Zhongmei Li, MS
Murad Mamedov, PhD
Edward Marsh, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Cody Mowery
Graduate Student
David Nguyen, MD, PhD
Clinical Fellow
Jennifer Okano
Ujjwal Rathore, PhD
Bruce Schaar, PhD
Scientific Project Manager
Ralf Schmidt, PhD
Eric Shifrut, PhD
Brian Shy, MD, PhD
Clinical Fellow
Zachary Steinhart, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Billy Tan
Student Intern
Jenny Umhoefer
Graduate Student
Shane Vedova
Research Associate II
Vivasvan Vykunta
Research Associate I
Carl Ward, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Jon Woo
Tori Yamamoto, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Ruby Yu, PhD