Memorial Sloan Kettering has a long history of leadership in immunity science, a field that provides extraordinary opportunities to relieve people’s suffering from cancer and other diseases.
In recent years, a number of scientific breakthroughs made here have helped breathe life into a century-old idea — that a person’s immune system is inherently capable of responding to cancer and can be summoned to effectively defend the body against it. In fact, clinical trials conducted at Memorial Sloan Kettering and elsewhere have shown remarkable successes for new cancer immunotherapies.
Today a large community of our researchers is pushing the limits of knowledge about the cells and molecules of the immune system. MSK takes a comprehensive research approach that incorporates a wide range of biomedical questions to elucidate the intricacies of the immune system and exploit them for the benefit of patients.
For example, our laboratory scientists explore the basic biology of immune cells, tumors, and infectious organisms at many levels, joining together various disciplines such as cell biology, genetics, structural biology, and computer science. In the clinic, we develop groundbreaking therapies, including drugs that free the immune system to react against tumors and cell-engineering methods that train a patient’s own immune cells to recognize a cancer and attack it.
In addition, we explore new ways to manage common problems of cancer treatment and hospitalization — such as infections and immune complications that may occur in transplant patients and others with compromised immune systems — and investigate the complex relationships between cancer, inflammation, and infections.
Research Programs and Collaborations
Our research on immunity spans one of our academic programs and three of our collaborative research centers:
The Sloan Kettering Institute Immunology Program
Researchers in our Immunology Program investigate a broad range of fundamental immunological processes and have a long-standing record of successfully translating laboratory findings into useful clinical applications.
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Center for Cell Engineering and Cell Therapy
The Center for Cell Engineering and Cell Therapy and its associated core facility bring together laboratory scientists and clinicians to develop and implement cell-based immune therapies for cancer using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology and adoptive T cell therapies.
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Lucille Castori Center for Microbes, Inflammation, and Cancer
The goal of this collaborative center is to explore the immune responses elicited by both commensal microorganisms that cause no harm and by dangerous bacterial pathogens, and how these infectious agents may promote cancer development.
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Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
The collaborative center and its associated core facility aim to aid the development of new, mechanism-based strategies for cancer immunotherapy as well as technologies for monitoring antitumor responses in patients.
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Recent Advances & News
In people with melanoma who respond to the drug ipilimumab, certain mutations make tumors more visible to the immune system.
Pictured: Jedd Wolchok, Alexandra Snyder Charen and Timothy Chan
A study in mouse models suggests how modified T cells may be used to treat tumors in the area just outside the lungs.
Michel Sadelain and Prasad Adusumilli
MSK researchers discover that the body senses and attacks harmful bacteria indirectly after the pathogens cause stress within the cells.
Pictured: Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Read more about our recent immunity science advances »