Immunology

The Institute of Biomedical Studies is honored to partner with the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR) to offer world-class training and research in Immunology. BIIR, a premiere research institute of the Baylor Health Care System, is located in Dallas, and is the home of a number of BMS graduate students and adjunct faculty. Information about BIIR is found below and on their web-site (BIIR).

BIIR scientists continue to make new discoveries in human immunology research and to maintain BIIR's reputation as one of the world-leading institutes in human immunology and translational research. Our vision for the next 5 years is to become a world leader in translational medicine.

BIIR is organized in 5 research centers:
  1. Center for Immunobiology (Discovery Research)
  2. Center for Inflammation and Personalized Medicine (Discovery Research)
  3. Ralph Steinman Center for Cancer Vaccines (Discovery Research)
  4. Center for Biotechnology (Drug Design and Manufacture)
  5. Center for Therapeutic Development (Preclinical Development)

BIIR research is powered by outstanding core facilities and support units:
  1. Flow Cytometry Core
  2. Genomics facility
  3. Immunomonitoring Core
  4. Bioinformatics team
  5. Biostatistics team
  6. cGMP Core
  7. Monoclonal Antibody Core
  8. Molecular Biology Core
  9. Luminex Core
  10. Imaging core
  11. Sample Core

BIIR research has significant financial resources:
BIIR scientists are extremely competitive in obtaining external research funding. Our group leaders have obtained a total of $17 million in external funding. This funding includes multiple federal research grants (3U19s, 6 R01s, 1 R21 and 7 discretionary or subaward projects from the NIH), support from the French government for HIV vaccine research, and funding from CPRIT for pancreatic and breast cancer projects. Dr. Oh was awarded a new R21 for asthma research and Dr. Zurawski has received funding from the Gates Foundation for HIV vaccine research in the past year. Additional funding comes from research foundations including the American Cancer Society, the Alliance for Lupus Research, and the National Psoriasis Foundation. In addition, BIIR has significant research funding from pharmaceutical companies. This significant external research funding is supplemented by strong financial support from BHCS and the Baylor Health Care System Foundation.

BIIR is a leader in translational research:
We continue to discover human disease gene signatures powered by our outstanding genomics platforms. Dr. Pascual's team continues to sharpen the gene signatures of human lupus and juvenile idiopathic arthritis as well as discover new gene signaturse for other human inflammatory diseases. These projects have led to the clinical development of anti-type I IFN for human lupus and anti-IL-1b therapy for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. A vaccine program utilizing anti-CD40 targeting is at the preclinical stage.

A dendritic cell-based vaccine program continues to show promise in the clinic. Our DC-based vaccine platform developed for treating melanoma will be expanded for treating pancreatic cancer and treatment-resistant breast cancer.

Recent discoveries:
Dr. Pascual's team discovered that netting neutrophils are the major inducers of type 1 IFN production in human SLE, therefore establishing for the first time a cross-talk between neutrophils and pDCs. This finding also provides an explanation for the aberrant "neutrophil" gene signature and "type 1 IFN" gene signature in the blood of SLE patients (Sci TM).

Dr. Palucka's group identified TSLP as a breast cancer cell-derived cytokine that programs tumor infiltrating myeloid DCs to induce inflammatory TH2 inflammation, which promotes angiogenesis and tumor growth (JEM).

Dr. Oh's group discovered that targeting dendritic cells via a receptor molecule called DC-ASGPR could induced antigen-specific IL-10-producing regulatory T cells and immune tolerance both in vitro and in vivo (JEM).

Dr. Ueno's team discovered the human T follicular helper cells that are critical for antibody responses (Immunity).

Dr. Liu's group discovered more novel DNA/RNA sensors within the helicase superfamily that play essential roles in anti-viral innate immunity and DNA/RNA induced autoimmunity (Nat Immunol, Immunity).