The King Lab (some assembly required)

Dept. of Biochemistry Institute for Protein Design University of Washington

King Lab | Lab Members


Neil King, PhD

Neil studied Biomedical Engineering as an undergraduate at Northwestern University, followed by graduate studies in Biochemistry in the lab of Todd Yeates at UCLA. During his postdoc in the group of David Baker at UW, he pioneered the development of general computational methods for the design of self-assembling proteins with atomic-level accuracy. He joined UW’s Department of Biochemistry and Institute for Protein Design as a Translational Investigator in 2014 before transitioning to Assistant Professor in July 2017. His group uses and extends computational methods to design functional protein nanomaterials for applications in structure-based vaccine design and targeted delivery of biologics.

Commercial Science Activities

Postdoctoral Fellows

Joel Allen, PhD

Joel is a visiting postdoctoral researcher from the University of Southampton. His background is in glycobiology, specifically analysing viral glycosylation using glycoproteomics. He is interested in using computational design to influence the resultant glycoforms displayed on glycoproteins for use as vaccines.

Chelsea Fries, PhD

Chelsea is a postdoc in the King lab who designs self-assembling protein materials with asymmetric architectures. Using oligomeric proteins as building blocks, she uses pseudosymmetric components to design materials with anisotropic features. With her background in biomaterials and immunology, she also utilizes these materials to modulate the immune system.

Dan Humphrys, PhD

The activity of biological membranes is determined largely by transmembrane proteins. Dan is working to develop general methods for functionalizing the group’s EPN platform by recruiting specific membrane proteins to EPN membranes. This fundamental capability will enable a wide variety of applications in delivery, diagnostics, and structural biology.

Sebastian Ols, PhD

Sebastian is a postdoc interested in vaccine design and understanding the interactions of B cells with designed immunogens. His background is in vaccine immunology and the selection/maturation of B cell lineages. Sebastian's work will use deep learning methods to design immunogens as tools for interrogating the B cell response.

Sanela Rankovic, PhD

Sanela is a postdoctoral fellow with a background in Viral and Cellular Mechanobiology, Molecular Biology and Biophysics. She is generally interested in adapting virus properties and mechanisms for an application in Synthetic Biology. Her research in the King lab focuses on co-opting human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) capsid disassembly mechanism for programmed disassembly of designed protein nanomaterials upon encountering specific environmental cues.

Graduate Students

Chloe Adams

Chloe is a Biochemistry PhD student. She is broadly interested in vaccine design and drug development. Specifically, she aims to design proteins to activate aspects of the innate immune system.

Cara Chao

Cara is a PhD student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program. She is interested in developing a protein nanoparticle-based vaccine for coronaviruses and determining the conditions to elicit more targeted antibody responses toward conserved regions. Her long term goal is to translate her nanoparticles into a genetic format for genetic delivery.

Jung-Ho Chun

Jung-Ho is a BPSD graduate student in the King Lab and the Baker Lab. He is interested in B cell engineering and vaccine design. He is currently working on designing de novo proteins that can direct B cells to specific cell stages, activation, and are useful in vaccine development.

Cameron Criswell

Cameron is a PhD student in the Biochemistry department. She is interested in designing proteins that bind to innate immune receptors for adjuvant development.

Helen Eisenach

Helen is a Biochemistry graduate student in the King and Baker Labs. She is interested in using deep learning-based design methods for self-assembling protein nanomaterials, especially for designing pseudo-symmetric oligomers and XL cages with high triangulation numbers. Helen likes to design in a "top-down" approach, thinking about desired architectures and functions and then engineering materials that fit those specifications. Her long term goal is to create novel protein cages and capsids that can be used for a variety of translational applications, including genetic delivery.

Cyrus Haas

Cyrus is a Chemical Engineering PhD student working in the King Lab and DeForest Lab. He is interested in creating platforms for controlled release from biomaterials with applications ranging from drug delivery to probing the complexities of the immune system. Cyrus is also designing novel protein nanocages that can be used as scaffolds for mRNA vaccines and hopes to extend the use of similar protein nanoparticles into hydrogel networks.

Grace Hendricks

Grace is a graduate student in the Biochemistry PhD program. She is developing a platform that combines the efficiency of genetic delivery with the potency of self-assembling immunogens. Additionally, she is utilizing novel computational methods for antigen design.

Geoff Hutchinson

Geoffrey is a graduate student co-advised by Neil King and Marion Pepper at the Institute for Protein Design and the Department of Immunology respectively. He is interested in better understanding the immune mechanisms behind nanoparticle delivery for vaccine design. His research is aimed manipulating basic aspects of particle assembly and antigen display to control B cell-T cell interactions and influence germinal center dynamics. He hopes to define a particle-based model system to better interrogate complex questions of adaptive immunity and inform vaccine development.

Naveen Jasti

Naveen is a Molecular Engineering student interested in computational protein design for global health. He works to tailor nanoparticles and antigens for vaccines.

Zac Jones

Zac is a graduate student in the Biochemistry program. He is using computational methods to stabilize antigens for use in vaccines. He is also interested in scaffolding stabilized antigens into nanoparticles.

Elias Kinfu

Elias is a Biochemistry graduate student in the King Lab. He is working on developing novel components for protein nanoparticles in hopes to develop a vaccine for influenza. He is also interested in developing novel nanoparticles of a variety of sizes and geometries to interrogate how these properties interact with the immune system. In his free time Elias enjoys living, laughing, and loving.

Mark Langowski

Mark is a graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program. He is interested in developing malaria vaccines and other epitope-based vaccines. His long term goal is working on developing methods for the design of nanoparticle vaccines that optimally bind B-cells.

Meg Lunn-Halbert

Meg is a BPSD graduate student in the King and Baker labs. She is working to improve vaccine efficacy using de novo protein design. Meg uses protein structure to control N-linked glycan composition and is designing oligomannose-type glycoproteins for nanoparticle display.

Sam Tipps

Sam is a Biochemistry student developing new methods to accurately control the assembly size of large, complex nanomaterials and designing proteins that can functionalize them for delayed release, advanced antigen patterning, and cryo-EM scaffolds.

Marti Tooley

Marti is a Molecular Engineering student in the King Lab and Baker Lab. She is interested in elucidating how to fine tune the immune system in generating long lasting responses to vaccine platforms. Marti aims to achieve this through designing new protein nanocages and testing immune modulators in a high throughput pipeline.

Dane Zambrano

Dane is a PhD student in the lab and is broadly interested in studying the structure and function of membrane proteins in a more native environment and in the context of ligand binding events. In the King lab, she is working to design membrane mimetics similar to nanodiscs and SMALPs with the goal to incorporate these designed membrane mimetics into the King lab's flagship protein nanoparticle platform. In addition, she is working on designing a new nanoparticle which can become encapsulated in a lipid bilayer.


Abby Burtner

Abby is an undergraduate (class of 2024) majoring in Biochemistry and broadly interested in the development of vaccines and immunotherapies.

Priya Christensen

Priya is an undergraduate Biochemistry and Public Health-Global Health double major (class of 2025). She is interested in finding ways to use native immunomodulatory proteins to improve immune responses to vaccines and creating global health solutions through vaccine design. She is working on creating nanoparticle vaccines with adjuvant-like properties under the mentorship of Marti Tooley.

Ethan Eschbach

Ethan is an undergraduate studying chemical engineering (class of 2025). His research broadly focuses on the development of novel self-assembling nanomaterials and the creation of unique deep learning methods aimed at streamlining design processes.

Research Scientists

Annie Dosey

Annie is pursuing the creation of a nanoparticle-based universal influenza vaccine, as well as a deeper understanding of how to control the immune response induced by the vaccine. Annie is also using both structural and computational methods as a means to probe nanoparticle formation and improve upon the accuracy and breadth of their design.

Adam Wargacki

Protein cages are a promising platform for display and delivery of therapeutic molecules. However, their biophysical properties must be mapped and optimized to enable predictability, uniformity, and stability throughout manufacturing and deployment. To this end, Adam is investigating the stoichiometry of cage assembly products, the stability of protein cages and their components, the dynamics and kinetics of assembly/disassembly, and the affinities of computationally designed nanomaterial interfaces. We have found that remarkably efficient assembly leads to protein nanomaterials exhibiting enhanced stability compared to their unassembled building blocks. These features present a promising profile for use as vaccine and drug delivery platforms, and may also hint that the emergence of such properties in designed nanomaterials is an intrinsic feature of higher-order protein complexes. Adam is an exceedingly private person, often hiding in his 1000-tree apple and pear orchard, a complex biological assembly he tends together with his wife and son.

Visiting Scholars

Ho Min Kim

Ho Min is a visiting scholar at IPD, and a professor at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST), with expertise in structural biology (X-ray crystallography and Cryo-EM) as well as drug development. He is interested in the inter-cellular communication between biomolecules, that regulate cellular responses, maintain homeostasis, and contribute to the development of human diseases. He is currently working on protein designs aimed at modulating immune response and angiogenesis.

Joan Capella Pujol

I am a VISIT PhD student from Sanders Lab in Amsterdam. I have been working on Hepatitis C virus E1E2 glycoprotein and its interaction with antibodies since the beginning of my PhD. My goal is to design a soluble protein that is robust, stable and can activate the desired immune response to help develop an effective preventive vaccine.

Sam Scherer

I’m a PhD student with Michael Kay at the University of Utah. I’m interested in using computational approaches to design chemically synthesizable proteins that serve as drug discovery targets.

Masaharu Somiya

Masa is a visiting scholar from Osaka University, Japan with a background in nanoparticles and drug delivery. He uses protein design to solve the most challenging problem in the drug delivery field: intracellular macromolecule delivery. He is currently trying to design functional proteins that achieve cell membrane penetration of nanoparticles to deliver biological cargoes into specific cells.

Lab Alumni


2022–2023 John Wang, PhD (Senior Scientist, Regeneron)
2022–2023 Yoann Aldon, PhD (Postdoc, Sanders lab)
2020–2023 Stefanie Baker, PhD
2017–2022 Aaron Sciore, PhD
2019–2021 Alena Khmelinskaia, PhD (Assistant Professor, University of Bonn)
2020–2021 Andrew Borst, PhD (EM Core Lead, IPD Core Laboratories)
2015–2021 Karla-Luise Herpoldt, PhD (Scientist, SeaGen
2018–2020 Thad Huber, PhD (Founder, Colorado Biofactory)
2016–2019 Carl Walkey, PhD (VP, Corporate Development at Neoleukin Therapeutics)


Graduate Students

2021–2023 Erin Yang, PhD (Scientist I, Generate Biomedicines)
2018–2023 Audrey Olshefsky, PhD (Scientist, Lila Biologics)
2018–2023 Annie Dosey, PhD (Research Scientist, King Lab)
2022–2023 Sydney Funk (Project Engineer, Seagen Launch Pad)
2016–2023 Quinton Dowling, PhD (Senior Scientist, Icosavax)
2017–2023 Dan Humphrys, PhD (Postdoc, King lab)
2017–2022 John Wang, PhD (Postdoc, King Lab)
2016–2021 Dan Ellis, PhD (Senior Scientist, Icosavax)


Research Scientists

2017–2021 Neil Gerstenmaier (Scientist, 2Seventy Bio, Seattle, WA)
2017–2021 Isaac Sappington (BPSD Graduate Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
2014–2020 Cassie Ogohara (Research Scientist, IPD Core Laboratories)
2014–2019 Brooke Fiala (Nanoparticle Core Lead, IPD Core Laboratories)
2015–2018 Kate DaPron (Graduate Program, CU Boulder, CO)
2015–2017 Julia Burrows (MSTP program, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA) 
2014–2016  Dan Ellis (Graduate Program in MCB, University of Washington, Seattle, WA)
2014–2015  Sueyeon Yi (MSTP program, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI) 

Undergraduate Researchers

2017–2021 Gargi Kher (Research Scientist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) 
2016–2020 Rose Fields (Research Scientist, University of Washington)
2017–2020  Chelsea Shu (Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Washington)
2018–2020  Margaux Randolph (Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Washington)
2019–2019  Conlan Olson (Summer student from Harvard University) 
2018–2019  Annamika Kannan (transferred to University of Michigan) 
2018–2018  Ariel Stiber (Caltech SURF program) 
2016–2018  Phong Ong (Masters program in Data Science, Syracuse University)
2014–2018  Hyung Chan (Brian) Kim (Medical School, Washington State University) 
2014–2015 Rachel Park (Ph.D. program in Biochemistry, Stanford University)