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

Tolerance and autoimmunity

  • 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, Gregerson, Hogquist, Jenkins, Khoruts, Mueller, Peterson, 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, Jameson, Mueller, Peterson, Shimizu

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 


  • 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, 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

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, Harris, Jameson, Jenkins, Masopust, Peterson, Shimizu, Vezys