About the Department

History

The Department of Immunology is the oldest free-standing immunology department in the country, formed as a basic science department as part of the inception of Mayo Medical School (now known as Mayo Clinic School of Medicine) 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 (now known as Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences), 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 immunology 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, including immune tolerance, costimulation and immune synapse
  • Establishing worldwide collaborations
  • Advancing technologies, such as DNA splicing by overlap extension, and providing resources, such as defined mouse strains, that are 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, such as aquaporin, now used as biomarkers of disease processes
  • Identifying molecular targets for therapeutic interventions — for example, MTOR, TACI and B7-H1
  • Identifying natural or synthetic molecules that are being formulated into new therapies

Community and facilities

Researchers in the Department of Immunology are highly interactive; laboratories are located in the Guggenheim, Hilton, Stabile and Gonda buildings in the center of Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, and in the Samuel C. Johnson Research Building on Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus.