Department of Immunology

Immunology is the study of biological systems used to defend the body against microbial pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. Evolution over the past several million years has equipped the immune system with a set of pattern recognition receptors, including the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), to distinguish self from microbial pathogens. The innate immune response, a first line of defense, is initiated by signaling through the TLRs, by bacteria DNA, lipoproteins and polysaccharides, as well as viral RNA. Triggering TLRs activates antigen presenting cells (APCs) to upregulate costimulatory molecules and secrete cytokines, which allow these APCs to initiate immune responses.

The other arm of the immune system is the adaptive immune response, which uses antigen-specific receptors called antibodies and T-cell receptors (TCRs), found on B cells and T cells, respectively. These specific receptors drive highly efficient immunological responses that possess memory.

Please view our Research page to learn more about the exciting research taking place in the Department of Immunology.

The goal of MD Anderson's Department of Immunology is to perform multidisciplinary research and educational activities in basic and cancer immunology.

Center for Cancer Immunology Research

The new Center for Cancer Immunology Research (CCIR) is one of the six collaborative programs in biomedical research that make up the McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer. The CCIR state-of-the-art facility for immunology research provides a platform for integrating basic and clinical immunology research programs.  

Additionally, the Center for Inflammation and Cancer is one of several interdisciplinary research centers in the MD Anderson Institute for Basic Science, with the goal to provide an interactive platform across MD Anderson and the Texas Medical Center to study cross-regulation of inflammatory cell types and tumor microenvironments and the underlying molecular mechanisms using both animal models and patient samples.

Through our commitment to research and education, we hope to train future generations of high-caliber immunologists, as well as to advance knowledge of cancer, the immune system and how to direct the immune system toward eradicating cancer.

Recent Events

  • Save the Date! Immunology Program Student Retreat: Fri. May 15 - Sat. May 16, 2015 at Sugar Land Town Square Marriott.  Details to follow.
  • The last Immunology Program Student Retreat took place on May 16 - 17, 2014 at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.  Click the links below to see the Program and Photo Album.