For his undergraduate studies, John Lukens attended the University of Richmond, where he pursued organic chemistry research in the laboratory of John Gupton. Lukens then completed his thesis research in the laboratory of Young Hahn at the University of Virginia. In the Hahn lab, his research was focused on identifying immunoregulatory pathways that suppress immune responses in the liver and contribute to functional exhaustion of intrahepatic T cells. For his postdoctoral training, he worked in the laboratory of Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti at Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. His work defined novel roles for IL-1 signaling pathways in a number of autoinflammatory disorders.
In fall 2014, Lukens returned to the University of Virginia to start his lab in the Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. His laboratory investigates roles for IL-1 family cytokines and caspase-mediated signaling in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative disease and autism spectrum disorder. The Lukens lab is particularly interested in discovering novel inflammatory pathways that contribute to maternal immune activation-induced autism and interrogating the efficacy of immune-based approaches in the treatment of autism.