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Center for Cancer Immunology Research

Co-directors: Patrick Hwu, M.D., and Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D.

The Center for Cancer Immunology Research opened in 2003, and is focused on ways to activate the immune system to produce anti-tumor responses.

News releases:
Immunology and Cancer: the Role of T Cells
Training the Immune System to Attack Cancer Cells

Collaboration of Four Departments

  • Immunology: James P. Allison, Ph.D.
  • Lymphoma & Myeloma: Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Melanoma: Patrick Hwu, M.D.
  • Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy: Jeffrey Molldrem, M.D.

Cancer Vaccines - Now

Using knowledge gained during the past two decades of how to "educate" the immune system, our investigators are creating potent new cancer vaccines. A vaccine developed by Jeffrey J. Molldrem, M.D., was used in a clinical trial for patients with advanced acute leukemia who had failed all forms of chemotherapy. The vaccine induced complete responses in half of the patients. The news received national attention because it was the first time a vaccine had induced complete responses in patients. The Department of Immunology provides information about the research in progress, graduate programs and profiles of the faculty.

...and for the Future

The major obstacle to using the immune system and its various components to prevent or treat human cancer has been a lack of understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that govern the immune response. These include the mechanisms by which cells of the immune system recognize antigens, expand and differentiate, find and destroy atypical cells and pathogens, and die or become inactive when no longer needed.

Some major advances in our understanding of the immune system have come from Human Genome Project discoveries of previously unknown genes and the coding involved in regulating inflammatory and immune responses. Other insights have been gained from studies of how the immune system defends the host against microbial pathogens.

The Center for Cancer Immunology Research collaborative strategy is key to applying the new findings and concepts in immunology to the problem of cancer without delay and shortening the time to move laboratory results into the clinic for patients.

How to Help Innovative Research - The institute's interconnected programs offer you a chance to help at an historic moment in the long search for answers to cancer. For more information, you may send a request to

© 2013 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center