Rachel A Gottschalk, PhD

Rachel A Gottschalk, PhD


Campus: 200 Lothrop St

Office: W1047 BST

Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Ph: 412-383-0473



  • BS, Biology, Emory University, 2005
  • PhD, Immunology, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, 2012
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Laboratory of Systems Biology, NIAID, NIH

Academic Affiliation

  • Assistant Professor

About Research

Our lab uses quantitative approaches to understand how cells process stimuli to determine the appropriate functional response. Identifying the activating receptors, kinases and transcription factors that make up signaling pathways is necessary but not sufficient to predict how a cell will respond. It is important to understand how the level and activity of these pathway components are controlled in a context-dependent manner. For example, environmental and genetic factors can cause small variations in key signaling regulators. These quantitative changes may tune the sensitivity of cells to stimuli, setting the threshold for a functional response and influencing susceptibility to disease


A major focus of our lab is tuning of macrophage signaling and cytokine production. Many chronic inflammatory conditions have been linked to dysregulation of these responses. We study the signaling logic that helps macrophages discriminate low-level homeostatic stimuli from those of invasive infection. Our goal is to understand how this cellular decision-making and the resulting inflammatory thresholds are tuned in a context-specific manner. One such context is the tissue specific tuning of macrophage signaling at barrier sites including the lung and small intestine, where macrophages face ongoing exposure to the microbiota. Current projects are also interrogating the influence of aging on monocyte and macrophage signaling sensitivity and response dynamics. Our hope is that this work will yield insight into the cause of chronic inflammation in age-associated diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Selected Publications

Oh. K.S., Patel H., Gottschalk R.A., Lee W.S., Baek S., Fraser I.D., Hager G.L., Sung M.H. Anti-inflammatory chromatinscape suggests alternative mechanisms of glucocorticoid receptor action. Immunity. 47(2):298-309, 2017. PMID: 28801231


Martins A.J., Narayanan M., Prüstel T., Fixsen B., Park K., Gottschalk R.A., Lu Y., Pfannkoch C., Lau W.W., Wendelsdorf K.V., Tsang J.S. Environment tunes propagation of cell-to-cell variation in the human macrophage gene network. Cell Systems. 4(4):379-392, 2017. PMID: 28365150


Gottschalk R.A.*, Martins A.J., Angermann B.R., Dutta B., Ng C.E., Uderhardt S., Tsang J.S., Fraser I.D., Meier-Schellersheim M., Germain R.N.* Distinct NF-kB and MAPK activation thresholds uncouple steady-state microbe sensing from anti-pathogen inflammatory responses. Cell Systems, 2(6): 378-90, 2016. PMID: 27237739

*co-corresponding authors

Spotlight in “Immune response signaling: Combinatorial and dynamic control”. Trends in Immunology, 37(9): 570-572, 2016. PMID: 27461000


Sung M.H., Li N., Lao Q., Gottschalk R.A., Hager G.L., Fraser I.D. Switching of the relative dominance between feedback mechanisms in lipopolysaccharide-induced NF-kB signaling. Science Signaling. 7(308): ra6, 2014. PMID: 24425788


Gottschalk R.A., Martins A.J., Sjoelund V.H., Angermann B.R., Lin B., Germain R.N. Recent progress using systems biology approaches to better understand molecular mechanisms of immunity. Semin Immunol. Pii: S1044-5323(12), 2012. PMID: 23238271



Research Interests

  • Quantitative control of inflammation
  • Signaling regulation
  • Macrophages, monocytes, and variables that tune their responses
  • Computational and Systems Biology