About the Department

History

The Department of Immunology is the oldest freestanding immunology department in the country, formed as a basic science department as part of the inception of Mayo Medical School in the early 1970s. From day one, members of the department have shaped the field of immunology — in education, research and clinical practice.

Departmental members were key to the establishment of Mayo Graduate School, having secured funding from the first National Institutes of Health predoctoral training grant at Mayo Clinic in 1983. The department developed a premier summer research program for undergraduates, now known as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

Over the past 40 years, research findings made by department members have advanced fundamentals in the science by:

  • Promoting key concepts (such as how antibodies work and how histocompatibility shapes immunity and disease).
  • Defining molecules and cell types (such as MHC class II, eosinophils and NK cells) and mechanisms central to immune responses (immune tolerance, costimulation, immune synapse).
  • Establishing worldwide collaborations.
  • Advancing technologies (such as DNA SOEing) and providing resources (such as defined mouse strains) central to the successes of an international community of researchers.

Discoveries made in the research laboratories of department members have greatly impacted clinical medicine by:

  • Linking immune responses to key molecules now used as biomarkers of disease processes (for example, aquaporin).
  • Identifying molecular targets for therapeutic interventions (for example, MTOR, TACI, B7-H1).
  • Identifying molecules (natural or synthetic) that are being formulated into new therapies (See News).

Community and facilities

Researchers in the Department of Immunology are highly interactive; our laboratories are located in the Guggenheim, Hilton, Stabile and Gonda buildings in the center of the Rochester, Minn., campus and in the Johnson Research Building on the Arizona campus.