Henry Gong

Immunology Program Graduate Student Candidate
Rackham Merit Fellow


Henry is a native of Asheville, North Carolina and completed his undergraduate studies in Biology and Public Policy at the University of North Carolina. He studied the role of cilia in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as an undergraduate. After graduating in 2017, he researched respiratory ciliary defects at UNC for 2 years before pursuing graduate work in the immunology at the University of Michigan. 

Research Interests

I study host responses in respiratory infections as they are the largest cause of death by infectious disease globally and pose an ever-increasing risk of pandemics.

I am particularly interested in the innate immune cells, neutrophils and macrophages, which serve as first responders against any infection. These cells are double-edged swords as they can promote pathogen clearance and resolve inflammation, while conversely, they can drive host damage during infection if not precisely regulated. Since joining the lab, I have worked to understand the impact of microbiome metabolites on the innate immune response to flu and bacterial co-infections. Currently, I am beginning a project to investigate how the variable responses of these cells may mediate susceptibility to severe coronavirus infection in a mouse model.


Flow cytometry, bactericidal assays, ELISA, cell culture, respiratory infection models, viral titer assays


2020 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
2019 Rackham Merit Fellowship
2017 Honors Carolina Laureate
2015 Phi Beta Kappa - Alpha of North Carolina


Boschen, K.E., Gong, H., & Parnell, S.E. (2017) The Mns1 gene alters susceptibility to craniofacial defects following gastrulation-stage ethanol exposure in mice. Research Society on Alcoholism Annual Meeting; June 24-28 2017; Denver, CO. A119.

Ostrowski, L.E., Sears, P.R., Markovetz, M., Gong, H., Hill, D.B. (2018) Mucociliary transport in vitro: effect of mucin concentration, reducing agents, and DNA on rheological properties and transport rate. ATS International Conference; May 17-22 2019; Dallas, TX. A2156.

Sears, P.R., Gong, H., Markovetz, M.R., Bustamante-Marin, X., Superfine, R., Hill, D., Ostrowski, L.E. (2020) Induction of ciliary orientation in a model of mucociliary transport: effect of concentration, reduction, and DNA on transport. North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference; October 22-24 2020; Phoenix, AZ.

Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities

Outside of the lab, I enjoy physical activities like powerlifting, kayaking, and cycling (Fi'kir Cycling Club) especially during the colder months, STEM education outreach, trying/making new foods and drinks, and I spend almost every moment listening to music. My spirit immune cell is a neutrophil; I like to live fast!