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About the ULB Center for Research in Immunology (U-CRI)

BioPark Campus
Brugmann Campus
Erasme Campus
Institut Jules Bordet
Plaine Campus
Given the major recent progresses in immunology, the teams involved in the field at the ULB have created a dedicated research institute. This institute brings together researchers from the Faculties of Sciences, Medicine and Pharmacy. Its aim is to promote fundamental and translational immunology. The teams, led by more than 25 principal investigators, are active on the BIOPARK campus (Gosselies) and the HEALTH POLE (Erasme campus, Institut Jules Bordet and Brugmann campus).

Research Axis:

Molecular Immunology : With a particular emphasis on innate immune cells and T lymphocytes, these projects involve state-of-the art approaches in molecular biology, flow cytometry and imaging to study transcriptional, post-transcriptional and epigenetic processes.

Pre-clinical Immunology : It involves the development of mouse models for human pathologies or therapeutic interventions. Several projects rely on implantable/genetic tumor models, infections and vaccination protocols or chronic inflammation. The animal facilities from the BIOPARK campus include a specific pathogen-free structure and several units dedicated to experimentation and infectious pathogens.

Human and translational Immunology : Research teams involved in human immunology are mainly located in the HEALTH POLE. It involves projects in vaccinology, infectious diseases, hematology and cancerology that rely on strong collaborative networks with clinicians.

Latest news

New publication on the role of ACOD1 in Brucella infection

September 16th 2021 - 14:36
In this article published in PLOS Pathogens, Aurore Demars from the group of Eric Muraille explores the role of aconitate decarboxylase 1 gene (Acod1; also known as Immune responsive gene 1) in the control of pulmonary Brucella infection in mouse. They observe that Acod1 is upregulated in murine alveolar macrophages in response to Brucella infection and that Acod1 deficient mice display a higher bacterial load in their lungs than control mice, demonstrating that Acod1 participates in the control of pulmonary Brucella infection. The ACOD1 enzyme is mostly produced in mitochondria of...

CIVIS course: Technical innovations in basic and translational research: Applications to Immunology-Oncology (IO)

September 14th 2021 - 11:39
The Institute of Cancer and Immunology (ICI) offers to Master and PhD students the opportunity to follow a mixed international mobility program on the theme of "Technical innovations in basic and translational research: Applications to Immunology-Oncology (IO)" within the universities of the CIVIS alliance. Both virtual mobility in the form of e-learning (webinars and videos) and 5-days physical mobility in high-tech scientific platforms, will allow students to discover or to deepen their skills in Immuno-Oncology. REGISTRATION closed on September 30!

Save the date: BCG Symposium Lille

September 06th 2021 - 10:32
2021 is the year of the 100th anniversary of the first administration of the Bacillus Calmette - Guérin (BCG) to a human being. It was the start of a long journey of the world’s most widely used vaccine and is today the oldest vaccine still in use. As of today, more than 4 billion children have been vaccinated with BCG to protect them against tuberculosis. However, over the years it became apparent that BCG has also interesting non-specific effects. As such, it is able to provide protection against various heterologous infectious and non-infectious diseases and is widely used to treat...

Save the date: Keystone (Virtual) Symposium on Maternal-Fetal Newborn Immunity: October 28-29

September 06th 2021 - 10:21
Worldwide, deaths from adverse pregnancy outcomes of preterm birth (PTB) and stillbirth (SB) represent the longest, deadliest pandemic in human history. Neonatal infection (e.g. sepsis) is the main cause of death for children under 5 years; with premature babies being especially susceptible to infection. While the final common pathway for SB, PTB and neonatal sepsis is associated with aberrant inflammation in the maternal-fetal dyad, lack of insight into the underlying mechanisms has hampered identification of effective upstream preventative or downstream therapeutic interventions. A focus on...

New Pre-print: Functional reprogramming of monocytes in acute and convalescent severe COVID-19 patients

August 20th 2021 - 11:18
Considerable advances have been made in the last months in understanding the contribution of the immune system to the pathology induced by SARS-CoV2. Here, Elisa BRAUNS from the group of Stanislas Goriely assessed the short and long-term impact of the infection on the function and the molecular features of circulating monocytes. They demonstrate that severe infection is associated with major alterations of the capacity of monocytes to produce cytokines in response to stimulation by various TLR ligands. However, this immune paralysis was not persistent as it was followed in the next months by...

New publication on the role of T follicular helper cells in breast cancer

August 20th 2021 - 11:02
In this article published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the group of Karen Willard-Gallo explores the mechanisms leading to the formation of active Tertiary Lymphoid Structures (TLS) in breast cancer. Analysis of active versus inactive TLS in untreated patients revealed that the former are associated with positive clinical outcomes. They explore the role of tumor-infiltrating Follicular Helper (Tfh) and Regulatory T cells (Tfr) in this process and show that these cells represent a potential key target of PD1/PDL1 blockade.


New Pre-print: Poor antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination in SARS-CoV-2 naïve residents of nursing homes

June 17th 2021 - 12:28
En septembre 2020 était lancée l’étude PICOV dans 26 centres de soins pour personnes âgées en Belgique. L’objectif de cette étude était de déterminer dans quelle mesure les personnes, personnel et résidents, ayant été préalablement infectées par SARS-CoV-2 étaient protégées de nouvelles infections. Après le début de la campagne de vaccination en janvier 2021, une deuxième question importante a été ajoutée au projet, à savoir si la réponse immunitaire au vaccin COVID-19 était différente chez les personnes préalablement infectées par SARS-CoV-2 par rapport aux...

1st Summer School in Immuno-Oncology organized by the Institut Cancer et Immunologie (ICI) and CIVIS

February 11th 2021 - 11:38
The ICI Summer School, edition 2021, all in English, is designed for international PhD and master’s students in life sciences, medicine, and computer science who are seeking to further their knowledge and skills in immuno-oncology research using the latest analytical methods. The Summer School will present recent technological breakthroughs that unravel the complexities of biological systems at the single-cell level, opening an avenue for the understanding of tumor and immune cell heterogeneity and next generation discovery of biomarkers and therapeutic targets.



New project supported by the Fondation Charcot

January 29th 2021 - 10:29
In autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), the balance between regulatory mechanisms and misguided immune cells attacking the body is often shifted in favour of auto-reactive cells. Manipulating the immune response to restore this balance and enhance regulatory functions is therefore a central paradigm in the search for MS therapies. We identified a specific signalling pathway, triggered by a receptor named CD27 that could be a target for such manipulation. By stimulating this receptor, we were able to reduce the activity of harmful auto-reactive cells and enhance the function of...

New publication: Tumorigenesis and inflammation

January 27th 2021 - 21:13
Tristetraprolin (TTP) is an RNA-binding protein that is known to play a critical role in the resolution of inflammation through the destabilisation of key cytokine transcripts, such as that encoding TNF. Furthermore, decreased expression or function of TTP is consistently observed in many human malignancies. Using loss or gain of function approaches, Assiya Assabban and her colleagues from the lab of Stan Goriely provide in vivo evidence that TTP controls key oncogenic events during skin tumorigenesis, such as the EGFR pathway. These data strongly support the notion that deregulation of...