Letter from the Director

 




Matthe
w L. Albert, M.D. PhD

Director, Department of Immunology



Without going into more thorough analysis of this question, we can state that the white corpuscles are microscopic organisms that are more complex than they appear at first sight and that to deal with them in the mass to make extracts is almost as rough a method as squeezing whole animals, say mice or frogs, to find out their digestive powers. Elie Metchnikoff, 1908

 

Since its discovery, researchers at the Institut Pasteur have been enthralled by the beauty inherent in the host immune system. And over 100 years later, we remain humbled by its complexity. The Department of Immunology, which includes 13 research units and 2 technical platforms composed of 170 scientists, has a shared interest in exploring the fundamental processes of immunity with the hope to provide new insight into disease pathogenesis, inspire novel vaccines and design unique therapeutic strategies. Moreover, we share a commitment to training the next generation of scientists dedicated to research excellence in the field of immunology.

Research conducted in the department is organized into three main themes.

(i) Development of the immune system. From the earliest hematopoietic precursors which appear in the yolk sac to the organization of lymphoid tissues, the competition for unique niche and resources that define the immune repertoire and the mechanisms that ensure homeostasis – the development of the immune system is intricately linked to our relationship with commensal organisms and its ability to respond to infectious agents and malignant transformation. Research units headed by Ana Cumano, James DiSanto, Gerard Eberl and Antonio Freitas are helping to advancing our understanding in these areas.

(ii) Innate and adaptive immune responses. Spanning from cell trafficking, proliferation and differentiation during host response to the signaling pathways that regulate these processes – the understanding of how the innate and adaptive immune responses function requires a coordinated effort employing cutting-edge biochemical, imaging and cell physiology approaches. Research units headed by Andres Alcover, Philippe Bousso, Marc Daeron and Sandra Pellegrini have been providing critical information into the cross-talk between the two arms of our immune system, as well as the mechanism by which micro-organisms subvert the host response for their own benefit.

(iii) Immune pathology and Immunotherapy. The immune response is often referred to as a double-edged sword, pathogenic in the case of chronic infection and autoimmunity but protective in their control of cells undergoing malignant transformation or in the case of vaccination. Research units headed by Matthew Albert, Claude Leclerc and Lars Rogge investigate the regulation of immunity in disease with the aim to translate their research into new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. The researchers within the department are highly collaborative, with their programs not only cutting across the stated thematic areas, but also forging important links to virology, bacteriology, parasitology, cell biology, genetics, developmental biology and epidemiology. 

In addition to the Research Units, the Department hosts two core platforms: The Cytometry Platform and The Center for Human Immunology, both part of the Imagopole network, headed by Spencer Shorte. Both structures provide researchers access to cutting-edge technologies with opportunities to participate in training courses as well as user groups in order to optimally meet the needs of the scientific community.

As part of a century-long commitment to understanding host immunity, the Department has taken the lead in training the future generations of immunologists. Notably, members of the department organize what is considered the top Immunology Masters course in France, attracting students from all over the world, who benefit from lectures in fundamental and applied immunology. Research Units within the department also welcome masters, graduate and post-doctoral students. Currently there are 75 students, at different stages of their training.

Following links on this web site, we hope you will explore the different activities ongoing within the Department of Immunology, as well as the Institute Pasteur and our surroundings. You will also find a calendar of seminars and events, a link to the Immunology Course and a full list of training opportunities offered by the Institute.  We also direct you to the profiles of faculty interests and recent literature citations, descriptions of our facilities and a section providing information on departmental policies and procedures.

We look forward to hearing from you (immunology@pasteur.fr) and hope to share our commitment to immunology with you.

Matthew L. Albert, MD PhD

Director, Department of Immunology

 

For more information about the history of Immunology at Institut Pasteur, please click here.

We would like to thank the following sponsors, whose support enables us to maintain a robust academic environment within the department.