Areas of Expertise

The Center for Immunology and Immune Therapies brings together researchers from across Mayo Clinic to advance collaborative innovations in immunology. Its consultation and coordination services are based in three areas of expertise:

  • Basic immunology
  • Cancer immunology and immunotherapy
  • Immune Monitoring Core

Basic immunology

Basic scientific research in immunology is the primary mission of the Department of Immunology and the Ph.D. training program at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Basic immunology research ensures that a high level of scientific innovation and discovery is integrated into all initiatives in the Center for Immunology and Immune Therapies.

Likewise, basic science studies benefit from input from clinical colleagues who define important unanswered questions related to patient care. A friendly dialogue helps translate these basic discoveries in a timely matter.

The Department of Immunology also collaborates with other basic science departments — for example, the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, and Molecular Medicine — whose areas of interest intersect with the immune system. Most basic science studies are laboratory based, using model systems, cultured cell lines or normal human cells to discern novel insights into the regulatory machinery governing the immune system.

Cancer immunology and immune therapy

The Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program comprises nearly 40 independent investigators with strong track records in basic and translational immunology research.

The Center for Immunology and Immune Therapies helps researchers in the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program create unique collaborations with investigators across Mayo Clinic. These collaborations drive the development of new immune-modulating interventions that not only treat cancer but also restore health to damaged tissues, slow the effects of aging and treat a multitude of other diseases.

Together, the Center for Immunology and Immune Therapies and the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program provide an interactive, supportive and durable scientific environment to foster understanding of mechanisms regulating the immune response and the immunology and immunotherapy of cancer. Key areas of research focus on:

  • New antibody-based cancer therapies
  • New cancer vaccines to protect against cancer recurrence
  • Improved strategies to direct chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells to eradicate cancer

Immune Monitoring Core

The Immune Monitoring Core provides researchers with the ability to reliably measure immune status in patients and to measure both mouse model and human immunity using validated standardized technologies, crucial elements of patient-oriented research.

To meet this fundamental research need, center director Larry R. Pease, Ph.D., and colleagues acquired the necessary institutional resources to create the Immune Monitoring Core. Contributors to this shared resource include:

The Immune Monitoring Core is led by Dr. Pease, director, and Jose (J.C.) C. Villasboas Bisneto, M.D., associate director. It is staffed by a Ph.D. research scientist, a manager experienced in Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and full-time support technicians.

The Immune Monitoring Core is equipped with a state-of-the-art mass cytometer, a multicolor enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) system and sample imagers. The core has capabilities for sample acquisition, processing and storage, and it services all three Mayo Clinic campuses. Additionally, plans are underway to add ELISPOT assay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and custom cellular assays.

Learn more about how Dr. Pease and Dr. Villasboas Bisneto developed the Immune Monitoring Core's mass cytometry (CyTOF) technology.