Eli Olson

Eli Olson

Immunology Program Graduate Student Candidate


Eli went to the University of Kansas for his undergraduate degree, where he earned a B.S. in Cellular Biology with Departmental Honors. While there, he worked as an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Dr. Lisa Timmons on RNAi and epigenetic silencing mechanisms in C. elegans. Eli joined the Program in Immunology in Fall 2016, and has since joined the Raghavan lab for his thesis work.

Research Interests

The goal of my project is to investigate mechanisms of post-ER assembly of HLA-B molecules in human monocytes and other professional antigen presenting cells. Typically, HLA class I is loaded with high-affinity peptide in the ER and exported to the cell surface, where it presents peptide antigen to the immune system. We have recently found that certain HLA-B allotypes are expressed at high levels in monocytes, but not lymphocytes, despite a limiting supply of high affinity peptides in the ER. These and other results indicate that monocytes possess alternative mechanisms of HLA-B assembly, which will be the focus of my project.


Flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, imaging cytometry, plasmid cloning, lentiviral infections/CRISPR knockdown, protein purification, Western blotting, qPCR, MACS cell separation, antigen-specific CTL sorting and expansion, CTL activation assays, cross-presentation assays.


2021 - Immunology Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award
2021 - Monte V Hobbs Student Award
2020 - The Herman & Dorothy Miller Award for Innovative Immunology Research
2019 - 1st place Poster Award, 18th Annual Immunology Program Retreat
2018 - Cellular Biotechnology Training Grant awardee
2018 - 3rd place Poster Award, 17th Annual Immunology Program Retreat
2016 - Biology Departmental Honors, University of Kansas
2015 - Undergraduate Research Award, University of Kansas


Eli Olson and Malini Raghavan. "Unconventional Endo-Lysosomal Assembly of Human Leukocyte Antigen B (HLA-B)." Graduate Program in Immunology Retreat (2021).
Eli Olson and Malini Raghavan. "Unconventional Endo-Lysosomal Assembly of Human Leukocyte Antigen B (HLA-B)." Immunology (2021).
Eli Olson and Malini Raghavan. "HLA-B recycling and trafficking pathways in primary human monocytes." Immunology (2020).
Eli Olson and Malini Raghavan. "HLA-B allotype-dependent differences in antigen cross-presentation efficiency in primary human monocytes."
Cellular Biotechnology Training Program Symposium (2019)."
Eli Olson and Malini Raghavan: “Non-canonical HLA-B assembly pathways in human monocytes”. Graduate Program in Immunology Retreat (2019).
Eli Olson, Brogan Yarzabek, Anita J. Zaitouna, Jie Geng, Gayathri N. Silva, and Malini Raghavan: “Exogenous peptide receptivity and intracellular localization differences between HLA-B allotypes in human monocytes and lymphocytes”. Graduate Program in Immunology Retreat (2018).


Cooking, traveling, hiking.