Our Staff

William Kwok

Director of the Tetramer Lab Core at BRI and Member of BRI

Background Information

Dr. Kwok received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. After completing his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Washington in 1983, he remained in Seattle completing post-doctoral research work at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center before moving to the Virginia Mason Research Center (later renamed the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason). Since 1988, he has been a principle investigator at the Benaroya Research Institute.

Area of Research

Dr. Kwok's research projects are focused on understanding the behavior of human “helper” T cells. These cells are difficult to detect and isolate using traditional methods, but can be studied effectively using tetramers: synthetic protein conjugates that can be used to directly label T cells. These novel tetramer reagents provide a new approach for studying healthy immune responses directed against viruses and other pathogens and harmful immune responses that are the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases and allergy. Detailed studies using tetramers have increased our understanding of the biochemical patterns that activate the immune system. Knowledge of this kind will be critical for developing improved vaccines and targeted therapies to combat infectious diseases, allergy and autoimmunity.