About the Institute

Immunology, the science of how the body protects itself against infection and cancer, and immunotherapy, the treatment of disease through the manipulation of the immune system, are arguably the most exciting areas of medicine at the current time. Such approaches promise the opportunity of controlling infectious diseases while providing more effective cures for diseases including cancer, common autoimmune disorders and allergies and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Birmingham has a very strong history of immunology research going back 30 years, and with one of the greatest concentrations of scientists and doctors in the world is well positioned to make a world-leading contribution.

Our research spans many aspects of the immune system, from the formation of white cells within the thymus gland (a small gland in the neck) to clinical trials on patients with diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or viral infections.

Key research strengths

Immunology

Immunologists study how the immune system protects the body from infection, and the pathogenesis of inflammatory and infectious diseases. Furthermore, we aim to understand how autoimmune diseases and cancers arise in some people but not others and improve the way we treat these diseases. Our work encompasses state-of-the-art molecular and cellular immunology, imaging, flow cytometry and mass cytometry. We regularly publish at the forefront of our field and have particular strengths in mechanisms of immune regulation, the non-haematopoietic microenvironment and immunotherapy.

Read more about the MRC Centre for Immune Regulation.

Cancer Immunology

Our research focusses on research themes addressing fundamental issues in tumour immunology: understanding which antigens to target, defining the role of the tumour microenvironment and research into different therapeutic strategies. Clinically, these efforts are directed towards improving treatment of haematological malignancies and a range of solid tumours.

Read more about the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Centre (CIIC).

Virology

The University of Birmingham is internationally recognised as a key leader in virology. Investigators in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy are researching a broad range of viruses to learn how they cause disease and to develop antiviral therapies and treatments. Our key interests lie in viruses that cause cancer, respiratory disease and hepatitis; infections that cause a huge burden to global health.

Read more about the Centre for Human Virology.

Liver Disease

Liver damage is caused by a variety of agents including inherited autoimmune conditions, metabolic disorders related to diabetes and obesity, infection with viruses and damage from drug or alcohol exposure. We are investigating all these conditions to discover unique and common mechanistic pathways, and have a particular interest in hepatic immune regulation. Our experimental approach incorporates state of the art culture systems, serological analysis cell phenotyping and imaging analysis as well as functional assays, and we are fortunate to have access to human material donated by our patients to validate and accelerate translation of our discoveries. Results from these studies are in stages of translational development within the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (as exemplified by the PIANO and IMMUNOTACE trials) and we have partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry (eg Biotie, Chemocentrix, Boeringer) to further develop current projects based on anti-inflammatory therapeutics and cell based immunotherapies. 

Read more about the Centre for Liver Research.