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Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology

  • The department performs basic research in cancer immunology and virology and develops new therapeutic strategies based on novel mechanistic insights. Cancer immunology is now one of the most exciting and important areas of investigation in the cancer field.

    The magnitude and durability of responses to immunotherapies in patients with diverse types of cancer are unprecedented in oncology. Dana-Farber has a long history of excellence in this field, and our immunology investigators have made important contributions to these advances that are now benefiting patients. We think that this is just the beginning of one of the most exciting chapters in the fight against cancer.

    Learn more about our mission and departmental emphasis

  • Featured Videos: Our researchers describe their work

    Kai W. Wucherpfennig vid

    Immunology's role in the fight against cancer

    Kai W. Wucherpfennig, MD, PhD, Co-chair of the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology at Dana-Farber, describes how immunology research contributes to the fight against cancer and the development of new and promising cancer treatments for patients.
    Carl Novina

    Why do basic research in a cancer institute?

    Carl Novina, MD, PhD, from Dana-Farber's Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology, describes the role of basic research in providing the building blocks upon which future cancer treatments are built.
  • Our Research Focus

    Basic Immunological Mechanisms

    All therapeutic advances in cancer immunology are based on our growing understanding of fundamental immunological mechanisms. We approach immunology as a complex system in which many cell populations activate and regulate each other.  

    Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy

    We are developing novel approaches for immunotherapy, and we closely collaborate with our clinical colleagues to advance important discoveries to clinical trials. The Wucherpfennig Lab has developed a novel approach for systematic discovery of negative regulators of T cell function. 

    Viral Immunology

    HIV infects a critical population of immune cells (CD4 T cells), resulting in an immunodeficiency syndrome that predisposes to opportunistic infections and cancer. A shared interest by HIV and cancer immunology investigators is the development of vaccines.

    Cancer Immunology Working Group

    At monthly faculty meetings, basic and clinical immunologists discuss ongoing research in their labs to foster translation of immunological principles into clinical immunotherapy trials. Immunologists in other departments are part of our vibrant immunology community and contribute expertise.
  • Highlights from Our Research

    Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD

    Immune response to flu vaccine linked to recipients' ethnic background

    How well a flu shot protects you from the virus can depend on your ethnic background and other inherited factors, report Dana-Farber scientists led by cancer immunologist and virologist Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD.

    Hye-Jung Kim, PhD

    Discovery opens door to new strategy for cancer immunotherapy

    New research by Dana-Farber scientists raises the prospect of cancer therapy that turns a tumor's best friends in the immune system into its gravest enemies, as reported in the journal Science.

    Carl Novina, MD, PhD

    Dana-Farber researcher wins NIH Pioneer award for innovative project

    Carl Novina, MD, PhD, was chosen to receive a National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award, which funds bold and innovative proposals to attack challenging biomedical problems.

    Michael Goldberg, PhD

    Turning back the clock on cancer

    Preventing cancer, or even reversing its earliest stages, would be hugely preferable to treating more advanced cases. Researcher Michael Goldberg, PhD, has contributed to research that demonstrates one way this might work.

    Kai Wucherpfennig, MD, PhD

    In vivo discovery of targets for cancer immunotherapy

    Therapeutic targets are typically identified using in vitro approaches, but the complex interactions of migratory immune cells with many other cell populations are very difficult to model using in vitro systems.

  • Support, Join, Contact

    Support Cancer Research

    To learn more about the many ways you can support Dana-Farber's research initiatives with a philanthropic gift, please contact Rebecca Freedman at 617-632-4215 or rebecca_freedman@dfci.harvard.edu.

    Join Our Team

    Learn about our opportunities for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, and junior faculty.

    Contact Us

    Our mailing address is 450 Brookline Avenue, SM-0722, Boston, MA 02215.

    To contact us, call Alison Angel at 617-632-3328 or email her at alison_angel@dfci.harvard.edu.