After decades of investigation establishing principles in
animal models, it has become possible to treat and cure some diseases in humans
by interventions that target immunological functions. Immunotherapy, described
by Science magazine as the Breakthrough of the Year in 2013, has led to major
changes in the standard of care for some diseases and is particularly useful in
infectious disease, autoimmunity, allergy/asthma and especially cancer.
While the University of Colorado School of Medicine has a
strong foundation in basic immunology, it lags peer institutions in development
and application of immunotherapeutic approaches. Each year dozens of patients are
sent from the Anschutz Medical Campus to other centers to receive immunotherapy.
In addition, investigators here are unable to compete successfully for many
research and clinical trial opportunities because the campus lacks organized
immune monitoring capability and ready availability of experimental models for
preclinical testing of new candidate therapeutics.
The Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Initiative will develop
needed infrastructure, train future scientific leaders and recruit faculty to
complement existing strengths, with the goal of establishing preeminence in
human immune system-targeted therapies.
The integrated campus with outstanding facilities for
biomedical research, patient care, medical education and biotechnology provides
an exceptionally strong foundation from which the existing immunology and
clinical programs can expand their focus to become preeminent in human immunology
Core strength on immunology lies in the Department of
Immunology and Microbiology,
Department of Medicine Divisions of Allergy
& Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology and in the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. Complementing this community are affiliate
faculty at National Jewish Health. Taken together the current core comprises
more than 70 faculty and their laboratories. The focus of this community lies primarily in understanding
basic immune functions, autoimmunity, and host pathogen interactions. The HI3
will leverage this expertise to establish preeminence in development and
delivery of next-generation immunotherapies. New faculty and infrastructure
will bridge this expertise to clinical and service elements described below.
The University of Colorado NCI-Designated
Comprehensive Cancer Center is
ranked 15th in the nation by US News and World Report. The UCCCC an
NCCN member center since 2013 and a member of the ORIEN network since 2015. The
center spans multiple campuses and clinical hospital facilities, brings
together expertise in basic and clinical sciences, with a strong tradition of
transdisciplinary research and translation.
The Department of Medicine Division of Medical
Oncology has a significant
number of physician-scientists collaborating within the Division and the Cancer
Center. The Department of Medicine
Division of Hematology/Hematological Malignancies/Bone Marrow Transplant has
recently expanded, adding physician-scientists focused on leukemia and lymphomas,
with interest in the delivery of cell-based therapies.
The Department of Surgery is growing a major focus of research in tumor immunology under
the direction of its new chair Richard Schulick. A strong transplant immunology
program also currently exists in the Department.
The Department of Neurology’s Neuroimmunology/Multiple Sclerosis Section encompasses one of
the largest MS clinical operations in the nation with approximately 9,000
patient visits per year at its four clinic sites, is the home of the country’s
largest MS brain biorepository, a National MS Society funded Collaborative MS
Research Center, and supports a multi-million dollar research portfolio.
The clinical home of the Department of Pediatrics is Children’s Hospital Colorado. The
hospital’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders houses the region’s
only Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program, the only program for adolescents and
young adults with cancer, the only Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant
Program, the only Meta-iodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) Program and the only pediatric
Experimental Therapeutics Program.
ClinImmune Labs, an FDA-licensed GMP facility Bioscience II, is active in production of clinical grade hematopoietic
and mesenchymal stem cells. ClinImmune functions in compliance of all
FDA guidance and has an experienced regulatory team that has successfully filed
with the FDA for both investigational new devices and biologic license applications.
Gates Biomanufacturing Facility consists of
14,000-square-feet of total space with 3,800-square-feet of dedicated to clean
activities. This facility offers the capability to manufacture both cell-therapy-
and protein-based biologics.
- Develop infrastructure needed for research in human
immunology and development and testing of therapeutics.
- Establish human immune monitoring and mass
cytometry facility to monitor immune status and responses of subjects using
reliable, standardized, technically advanced assays.
- Facilitate translational research by promoting
faculty networking and access to human tissues.
- Provide huSCID models for preclinical testing of
- Enable GMP production of immunotherapeutics.
- Recruit new faculty who have outstanding expertise
in development and delivery of immunotherapy.
- Train the next generation of scientists who will
become leaders in this area.
John Cambier, PhD, Director
Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, Co-Director
Andrew Fontenot, MD, Co-Director
Aimee Bernard, PhD, Administrative Director
Jill Slansky, PhD, Director, Human Immune Monitoring
Roberta Pelanda, PhD, Director, Networking and Preclinical
Bryan Haugen, MD, Director, Training
Craig Jordan, PhD, Director, GMP Immunotherapy Production