Steve Mack, PhD

Associate Professor
Division of Allergy, Immunology and BMT UCSF Department of Pediatrics

Scrientists and Staff



Phone: 510-597-7145



The Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) are key elements of the innate and adaptive immune systems. These proteins are crucial for distinguishing ”self” from “non/aberrant-self”, and constitute the basis for the immune response to viruses, bacteria, parasites and many cancers. The HLA proteins are also associated with auto-immune diseases, which occur when “self” is misidentified as “non-self”. The accurate matching of the HLA “types” of marrow and cord-blood donors with transplant patients is crucial for avoiding transplant rejection and graft-vs-host disease.

The HLA genes are extremely polymorphic, with thousands of variants (alleles) known for some genes. Alleles of different HLA genes occur on the same chromosome more often than expected, in what is called Linkage Disequilibrium (LD). Their extensive polymorphism and LD make these genes highly informative, convenient markers for studies of individual ancestry, population genetics, and the peopling history of the world, as well as the evolution of HLA diversity.

Dr. Mack has studied the genetics of these immune genes and the genomics of the HLA region of the genome for over 20 years. His CHORI research group is focused on understanding how the polymorphism of the HLA genes informs predisposition to and protection from infectious and auto-immune diseases and cancers, and understanding what HLA polymorphism can tell us about human evolution and population genetics.

Dr. Mack’s group is actively developing novel software, standards and methods to improve donor-patient matching for marrow and cord blood transplantation and to advance research for highly polymorphic genes and genomic regions, in particular for HLA and Killer-cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor(KIR) genotype data generated using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies.

Dr. Mack is an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UCSF, and an Associate Editor at Human Immunology, the Journal of the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI). He was a component leader of the 17th International HLA and Immunogenetics Workshop’s (IHIW), held in 2017, and is a member of the IHIW Council. He is also co-founder of the Immunogenomics Data Analysis Working Group and the Immunogenomic Next Generation Sequencing Data Consortium.

Dr. Mack received the 2019 Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland Medical Staff Scientific Achievement Award for his advances in bioinformatics and work dissecting the association of HLA polymorphism with Multiple Sclerosis.


Revised: April 29, 2020 3:58 PM


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