Host Genetics and Cellular Immunity


Principal Investigator: Christian Brander


Our research focus is the study of cellular immunity against viral infections in hosts with compromised immunity. One of our main activities is identifying immunological correlates of relative HIV control and determining how to translate these findings into vaccine designs.

The group has implemented a number of ex vivo immune analyses in samples of people with HIV infection, with the aim of identifying regions where the virus is most vulnerable and defining the features (avidity and cross-reactivity) that are critical for an effective T-cell response to HIV. These studies are complemented with analyses of persons highly exposed to HIV who have remained uninfected and of persons who have been closely monitored before and after they become infected with HIV. We are studying the evolution of the induced immune responses over time and how pre-HIV-infection immunity to other pathogens is affected by and affects the immunity to HIV.

All patient groups also undergo integrated systems biology analyses that combine communicome studies with methylome and transcriptomics analyses to determine how HIV infection induces epigenetic changes in genes that encode for critical antiviral factors of the host.

HCV studies

In addition to studies directly related to HIV, the group is also studying possible factors governing the evolution of HCV in liver transplant recipients. These include host genetic factors of donors and recipients and immune responses against the re-infecting virus in the transplanted liver. The transplantation model is also used to determine the effects that the ablative treatment pre-transplant has on the repertoire of post-transplant T-cells and how this repertoire contributes to the control of opportunistic infections, including pathogens such as Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, which are associated with post-transplant lymphoproliferative diseases and other malignancies.

Keywords: Methylation, Host factors, Organ transplantation, Neurofunction, Virus immune control
Principal Investigator

Christian Brander

Christian Brander graduated from the University of Bern in 1994 with a PhD in Immunology, having studied exogenous antigen re-presentation on HLA class and T-cell-mediated hyper-reactivity to penicillin. He spent the next 13 years at Harvard University, where he focused on...


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Irsi Caixa

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