The Pasteur Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy is inaugurated in Ceará

Press release

Inaugurated this Friday (5/17), the Pasteur Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy, located in Fiocruz-Ceará, brings together scientists from the Institut Pasteur and Fiocruz, two Pasteur Network members, to develop an integrative approach to immunotherapies applied to both infectious and non-communicable diseases. This scientific cooperation aims to accelerate research in immunology and immunotherapy at a regional, national, and international level. It enjoys the support of the Ceará state government and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, through its Embassy in Brasilia.

The new center is located on the Fiocruz Ceará campus in Eusébio, 30 minutes from Fortaleza (the state's capital in Northeastern Brazil) in a 2,350 sqm building. The center will also benefit from the structure of Fiocruz’s regional unit, opened in 2008, which is today the core focus of the Industrial and Technological Health Hub in Ceará (Polo Industrial e Tecnológico da Saúde – PITS).

The inauguration of the Immunology and Immunotherapy Center in Fiocruz Ceará introduces a new model of collaboration in the century-old partnership between Fiocruz and the Institut Pasteur,” explains Fiocruz President Mario Moreira. “This center, with its focus on innovation, will allow us to accelerate translational research in immunology and immunotherapy, with a direct and positive impact on the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS, in the Portuguese acronym) by expanding access to advanced treatments for the Brazilian population. The research carried out will undoubtedly result in solutions for diseases that affect not only our country, but our neighbors in Latin America and the Global South, who may also benefit. This partnership therefore reinforces the commitment of Fiocruz and the Institut Pasteur to deliver excellent science in support of people's health and well-being,” he emphasizes.

The development of novel immunotherapies is an important public health strategy. This kind of treatment is based on modulation of the immune system and can directly target an infectious agent, damaged cells and tissues, or regulate the immune microenvironment, thus promoting an appropriate immune response to fight a given disease. It has revolutionized cancer treatment in recent years, but is not restricted to oncology. Indeed, its use in treating other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and infectious diseases has seen a sharp rise.

The center has three priority scientific areas: cancer; infectious and neglected diseases; autoimmune, neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases. Among the projects hosted by the center are: the development of Integrin Inhibitors for Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases; the development of Antibody-Drug Conjugates; the development of nanobody/antibody fragments for Neglected Tropical Diseases; CAR-T cells; and immunotherapies to enhance T cell functions to tackle infectious diseases.

Fiocruz and the Institut Pasteur are long-standing partners, linked to one another since their very inception. The creation of the Pasteur-Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy is another ambitious and strategic step for our partnership, as well as for Franco-Brazilian relations. Through this bilateral center, both institutions will contribute to accelerating the development of disruptive immunotherapy approaches, bringing together their inimitable expertise in enhancing fundamental and applied research towards the discovery and production of tomorrow’s immunotherapies” added Yasmine Belkaid, President of the Institut Pasteur.

Brazil and France are vast and diverse countries, their populations are frequently affected by infectious and neglected tropical diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites and snake bites. Moreover, mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, malaria and Zika are endemic in some regions of both countries. Additionally, both countries face a rise in non-communicable diseases. This scenario signs an upward demand for innovative therapeutics.

The first bilateral framework agreement envisioning the launch of the center was concluded in 2015, and renewed in 2021. The following year, it was decided that Fiocruz Ceará would host an Institut Pasteur researcher to contribute to integrated research efforts. Caroline Pereira Bittencourt Passaes, the Brazilian immunologist who was chosen, has a Master's and Doctoral Degree from Instituto Oswaldo Cruz (IOC/Fiocruz) and had been working at the Institut Pasteur for eleven years at the time. Caroline is notable as the co-author of the study regarding the third AIDS cure case.

The center's activities encompass fundamental and translational research projects, to develop new immunotherapies,” explains Caroline. “This cooperation model between the Institut Pasteur and Fiocruz promotes the joint development of innovative projects using all available resources, not only at the Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy, but also at partner institutes. Promoting the mobility of researchers and students and the training of human resources is a central aspect of this partnership.

Jointly with João Hermínio Martins da Silva, former research coordinator at Fiocruz Ceará, Caroline Pereira Bittencourt Passaes is one of the coordinators of the Pasteur-Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy. Despite the improvement in the global capacity to develop and manufacture immunotherapeutics, a limited number of patients can benefit from universal access to these therapies to treat their conditions due to elevated costs. “The center’s contribution will certainly be important to the SUS,” states João.

At the forefront of healthcare research, we are exploring new frontiers in immunotherapy. By targeting the immune system to fight diseases like cancer, we potentially make treatments more tolerable. The approaches proposed at the center aim to make immunotherapies more accessible, reducing costs for the SUS and making them available to more people,” says João Hermínio. “The partnership between Fiocruz and the Institut Pasteur consolidates a vital knowledge exchange. Together, we can accelerate discoveries, improve protocols, and expand access to effective treatments, benefiting local and global public health.

The Pasteur Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy directly reports to the Institut Pasteur and Fiocruz Presidents and has a Coordinating Committee and a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The Coordination Committee is made up of three representatives from the Institut Pasteur, three representatives from Fiocruz; one from the French Embassy in Brazil; and one from the Ceará state government. The SAB has six members, independent experts who carry out their scientific activities in both Europe and South America, jointly appointed by the Institut Pasteur and Fiocruz.

The Pasteur Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy will collaborate closely with the Immunobiological Technology Institute (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz) through a research and development laboratory that is being structured. The center will also work in partnership with universities, research institutes and public or private companies. It functions within a multi-user operating model, which means that equipment is available to any researcher who requires it. In addition to the input from Fiocruz and the Institut Pasteur, the center can rely on further financial support from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (through its Embassy in Brasilia), the Ceará government and the state governmental agency for the development of science (Funcap, in the Portuguese acronym).

A long-standing partnership

The ties linking the Institut Pasteur to Brazil date back to the late nineteenth century when Don Pedro II, then Emperor of Brazil, a strong supporter of scientific research, developed a keen interest in the work of Louis Pasteur. In 1879, Don Pedro II invited Louis Pasteur to Brazil to study and combat the yellow fever epidemic. Although Louis Pasteur could not travel to Brazil, a successful collaboration led to significant financial support from the emperor, which contributed to the creation of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, in 1887. Later on, Brazilian scientist Oswaldo Cruz traveled to Paris in 1897 and worked with the first generation of Pasteurians, including Émile Roux. In mid-1899, with his studies completed, Oswaldo Cruz returned to Brazil and founded the Serum Therapeutic Institute, which became the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, on May 25, 1900. The rise of the Pasteur-Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy adds a new and certainly fruitful chapter to the story.

The Pasteur Network

The Institut Pasteur and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation are both members of the Pasteur Network. The Pasteur Network is an alliance of over 30 members that plays a crucial role in tackling global health challenges through science, innovation and public health. Its distinctive strength lies in its diversity and extensive geographic reach, spanning 25 countries across 5 continents, fostering a dynamic community of knowledge and expertise. The Pasteur Network is recognized as a WHO non-state actor, and members of the network are frequently embedded into local Ministries of Health. The Pasteur Network sustains a global infrastructure encompassing 50+ national and regional reference laboratories, which includes multiple Biosafety Level 3 Laboratories, and 17 WHO Collaborating Centers.

The Pasteur Network's work is guided by four strategic pillars: 1) Epidemic Preparedness and Intelligence, with a focus on climate sensitive diseases, 2) Research, Development, and Innovation, 3) Knowledge Communities, and 4) Good Governance and Equity.


Inauguration of the Pasteur Fiocruz Center on Immunology and Immunotherapy

Press contacts:

Institut Pasteur: Aurelie Perthuison, Myriam Rebeyrotte -

Head of press office


Press officer

Press officer

Press office assistant


Press officer





Subscribe to our newsletter

Back to top