Dr. Shiv Pillai is a professor of medicine and health sciences & technology (HST) at Harvard Medical School. He is the program director of the NIH-funded Autoimmune Center of Excellence at Massachusetts General Hospital and the director of the Harvard immunology Ph.D. and master’s in medical sciences programs. Shiv is also director of MD-student research for the Harvard-MIT HST program. He is a group leader at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard; a member of the MGH Cancer Center; and an associate member of the Broad Institute.
Shiv is a world leader in the study of fundamental B-cell immunology. His laboratory at MGH postulated and provided evidence for the first ligand-independent signaling model during lymphocyte development, now a widely accepted mechanism for both pre-B receptor and pre-T receptor signaling. Shiv's laboratory also showed that Btk, the product of the gene mutated in X-linked agammaglobulinemia, is functionally linked to the pre-B receptor and the B-cell receptor. Btk inhibitors are now widely used in lymphoid malignancies and autoimmunity. In addition, his group defined a functional niche for B cells (around sinusoids in the bone marrow); identified the first two mutants that abrogate marginal-zone B-lymphocyte development; developed the concept of a follicular versus marginal zone B-lymphoid cell-fate decision; and discovered two new defined stages of peripheral B-cell development, the marginal zone precursor (MZP) B cell and the follicular type II B cell.
In addition, Shiv's work has contributed to breakthroughs in understanding the pathogenic mechanisms underlying an autoimmune fibrotic disorder, IgG4-related disease, with ongoing investigations involving the study of systemic sclerosis and common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). These findings have generated several clinical trials targeting the activated lymphocytes responsible for chronic inflammation and fibrosis in patients with these autoimmune disorders.
Shiv is the author of a monograph “Lymphocyte Development” and co-author with Abul Abbas and Andrew Lichtman of two widely used textbooks of immunology. He is the course director of immunology courses at Harvard Medical School and Harvard College and for the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies. Shiv received a medical degree from Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, and a doctorate in biochemistry from Calcutta University. He subsequently completed postdoctoral training in the lab of David Baltimore at MIT.