Adam Courtney

Adam Courtney, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology
Accepting Students?


Dr. Courtney received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he investigated how antigen glycosylation is sensed by B cells using inhibitory lectin co-receptors that suppress B cell signaling. Following his graduate studies, he investigated kinases and phosphatases involved in T cell signaling as a Robertson Foundation Fellow of the Cancer Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. These studies revealed T cell antigen perception can be manipulated using genetic and drug-like interventions targeting endogenous regulatory mechanisms that set a threshold for T cell activation. Dr. Courtney then joined the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology. Currently, his research group aims to understand T cell signaling pathways important for antigen recognition and to explore strategies that improve the capacity of T cells to recognize and eliminate cancer.

Research Interests

The Courtney lab seeks to understand how T cells make decisions that affect their behavior and to leverage these insights for the development of new immunotherapy strategies. We take an interdisciplinary approach that applies immunology, chemical biology, and genetics to study T cell signaling pathways. We believe that by understanding and manipulating how T cells make decisions we can improve their capacity to target and eliminate cancer. We currently investigate strategies to alter how T cells perceive antigen, overcome suppressive cues, and reverse T cell quiescence. Our overall goal is to potentiate T cell-mediated anti-tumor responses against poorly immunogenic cancers. We also investigate how inhibitory signaling pathways, such as the PD-1/L1 axis, affects antigen recognition by T cells.

Research Opportunities for Rotating Students

We are looking for new team members who share our excitement for T cell signaling and are interested in exploring strategies to manipulate T cell behavior in the setting of cancer. Trainees will have the opportunity to work with cell lines and primary T cells. Projects include viral modification of T cells to alter signaling pathways, investigating co-inhibitory signaling by PD-1, and developing new tools to manipulate signaling in T cells.

Diversity Ambassador

First Generation College Student