Research within the Center for Immunology focuses on several key aspects of immunity.

Autoimmunity and Tolerance

  • How does the immune system acquire tolerance to self-proteins?
  • How are self-reactive T and B lymphocytes eliminated during development?
  • What are the biochemical mechanisms by which T cell tolerance is maintained in the peripheral immune system?
  • Why does the immune system have so much difficulty recognizing tumor cells as foreign?
  • How do the various cells in the immune system collaborate to maintain tolerance to self-proteins?
  • What are the consequences of a breakdown in immunological tolerance?
  • What is the molecular basis of autoimmune diseases?

Faculty researchers
Binstadt, Farrar, Fife, Freedman, Gregerson, Hogquist, Jenkins, Khoruts, Mueller, Schuldt, Spanier, Vezys

Immune response to infection

  • How is the host immune response to pathogens regulated?
  • What are the cellular and cytokine signals required for protective immunity against infection?
  • What are the unique features for activating pathogen-responses at mucosal infection sites?
  • How can we optimize vaccination for protective immunity?

Faculty researchers
Bold, Hamilton-Hart, Harris, Jameson, Jenkins, Masopust, Peterson, Shimizu, Vezys

Lymphocyte activation

  • How does the immune system respond to antigenic peptides?
  • How does immunological memory develop?
  • What are the biochemical signaling pathways that initiate and regulate T and B cell activation?
  • How are T cells maintained in the body in a state of readiness?
  • What is the molecular basis for the antibody response?
  • What are the mechanisms that regulate the movement of leukocytes through the body?
  • How do T cells regulate the function of other T cells?

Faculty researchers
Blazar, Bohjanen, Fife, Freedman, Hamilton-Hart,  Jameson, Mueller, Peterson, Shimizu, Spanier

Lymphocyte development

  • How are T and B lymphocytes educated during development to distinguish between self and non-self?
  • What are the environmental cues that regulate lymphocyte development?
  • What are the biochemical pathways that regulate T and B cell development?
  • How do undifferentiated stem cells develop into hematopoietic cells?

Faculty researchers
Blazar, Farrar, Hogquist, Jameson, Miller 

Myeloid cell function

  • How cells are recruited to sites of tissue damage and infection via various chemokine receptors?
  • In the pathogenesis of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, how do myeloid cells play a major role, like atherosclerosis?
  • What mechanisms are regulating the development and function of tissue-resident macrophages?
  • How do Myeloid cells make fate-decisions of circulating monocytes upon entry into inflamed tissues?
  • Detecting pathogen-associated molecular patterns to achieve tissue-specific functions
  • How efficient are Myeloid cells in tracking signaling cascades that result in the production of cytokines?

Faculty researchers
Binstadt, Bold, Freedman, Schwertfeger, Williams


  • What is the immunological basis of transplant rejection?
  • How can our knowledge of the immune system be used to enhance the survival of transplants?
  • What are the mechanisms of rejection in xenotransplantation?

Faculty researchers
Blazar, Fife, Huddleston, Kyba, Miller, Tolar

Tumor immunotherapy

  • Can we use our understanding of how the immune system functions to develop new and more effective immunotherapies?

Faculty researchers
Fife, Freedman, Jameson, Masopust, Miller, Pennell, Stromnes, Vezys