Skip to Content

nav = Immunology


Welcome to The MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences graduate program in Immunology. The Immunology Graduate Program is designed to provide high-quality, comprehensive education and research training in the exciting field of immunology, allowing graduates to successfully pursue careers as independent investigators in academia or industry.

Train with Us

Principles of immunology have been applied to create numerous preventative and curative therapeutics for many types of human disease. The GSBS Program in Immunology is an inter-institutional activity with faculty and laboratories located in the UTHealth McGovern Medical School and School of Dentistry, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, all committed to excellence in graduate student education and research. 

We currently have 74 faculty members from both MD Anderson and The University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston representing 26 departments. Collectively, research conducted by our faculty reflects the complexity and diversity of the immune system. Main areas of faculty research include cancer immunology, infectious diseases, and inflammation with special interests in innate responses, adaptive responses, immune regulation, development of prophylactic vaccines, and development of vaccines or immunotherapy for a form of cancer, allergy or autoimmunity. Faculty members are committed to fostering a highly interactive and supportive environment that enables students to complete our rigorous curriculum and receive advanced training in basic and translational immunology research.

Antibodies attacking a virus Immunology Header


Photo of Zhiqiang An, PhD, in his lab.

Faculty member An named first vice president of drug discovery at UTHealth Houston

Zhiqiang An, PhD, has been named UTHealth Houston’s first vice president of drug discovery. In this new role, An will work in close collaboration with researchers across campus, as well as the...
November 13, 2023
Read More
Andrea Hernandez earns NIDCR supplement, forges her own way forward

Andrea Hernandez earns NIDCR supplement, forges her own way forward

Andrea Hernandez—a PhD student in the Immunology program—joined the lab of Simon Young, DDS, MD, PhD, because her interest in translational work led her to a passion in improving cancer immunotherapy...
May 10, 2023
Read More
Lorenz named 2023 McGovern teaching award winner

Lorenz named 2023 McGovern teaching award winner

Graduate School students selected Michael C. Lorenz, PhD, as the recipient of the 2023 John P. McGovern Award for Outstanding Teaching. Lorenz is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular...
April 10, 2023
Read More
11 faculty members receive more than $8 million in CPRIT funding

11 faculty members receive more than $8 million in CPRIT funding

Since its inception, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded more than $3 billion in grants for cancer research. Programs supported by CPRIT funding have brought...
March 3, 2023
Read More
PhD student Ye Ethan Li discusses first-authoring papers as a non-native English speaker; emphasizes a focus on one’s audience

PhD student Ye Ethan Li discusses first-authoring papers as a non-native English speaker; emphasizes a focus on one’s audience

Ye Ethan Li is a PhD student in the Immunology program at the Graduate School, and joined the lab of Katy Rezvani, MD, PhD, to research novel treatment with cell-based immunotherapy in locating and removing...
January 30, 2023
Read More
A super-resolution microscopy image of a T cell


New Program Co-Director joins Immunology

July 1st marked day one for the new Immunology Program Co-Director, Dr. Florencia McAllister.

Dr. McAllister will serve the Immunology community for a two-year term.

Florencia McAllister

Dr. Florencia McAllister
Immunology Program Co-Director
Assistant Professor
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Student Achievements

  • Research Award Recipients

    Congratulations to these Immunology Program students for their accomplishments during the 2023 Immunology Program Retreat:

    Post-Candidacy Poster Winners

    Josue Pineda
    Advisor: Dr. Matthew Gubin, Dr. Stephanie Watowich 
    “Elucidating the role of the MHC class I and MHC class II antigen presentation by tumor-specific CD103+ dendritic cell vaccines”

    Heather Sonneman
    Advisor: Dr. Gregory Lizee
    “Elucidating the role of VGLL1 in pancreatic cancer tumorigenesis”

    Avantika Krishna
    Advisor: Dr. Seyed Javad Moghaddam
    "Tumor cell-specific IL-1β/IL-1R signaling promotes KRAS mutant lung tumorigenesis”

    Pre-Candidacy Poster Winners

    Yating Li
    Advisor: Dr. Cassian Yee
    “Investigating the role of QKI in dendritic cells”

    Rishika Prasad
    Advisor: Dr. Robert Jenq
    "Influence of gut microbiome on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy”

    Maria Grimaldo
    Advisor: Dr. Seyed Javad Moghaddam
    “Comparative effects of combustible cigarette versus electronic cigarette exposures on K-ras mutant lung cancer promotion"

    Benjamin Whitfield
    Advisor: Dr. Jason Huse
    “Exploring the immunologic complications of A TRX deficiency in glioma"

    Elevator Speech Winners

    Morgan Riba
    Advisor: Dr. Cassian Yee and Dr. Stephanie Watowich

    Sarah Schneider
    Advisor: Dr. Stephanie Watowich

    Guillaume Trusz
    Advisor: Dr. Michael Curran

    Oral Presentation Winners

    Cheryl Jiang
    Advisor: Dr. Katy Rezvani
    "Oncolytic virus-mediated”

    Spencer Lea
    Advisor: Dr. Michael Curran
    "NLRP3 inflammasome activation expands immunosuppressive myeloid stroma and antagonizes the therapeutic benefit of STING activation in glioblastoma”

    Yangxi Zheng
    Advisor: Dr. Yair Reisner
    "Characterization and ex vivo expansion of multi-potent lung progenitors”

    Krithikaa Rajkumar Bhanu
    Advisor: Dr. Michael Curran

  • 2022-2023 Scholarship Award Recipients

    Congratulations to these Immunology Program students for their accomplishments during the 2022-2023 Academic Year:

    • Ben Whitfield (Advisor: Jason Huse): Recipient of the Andrew Sowell-Wade Huggins Scholarship
    • Spencer Lea (Advisor: Michael Curran): Recipient of Andrew Sowell-Wade Huggins Scholarship
    • Jielin Liu (Advisor: Padmanee Sharma): Recipient of Andrew Sowell-Wade Huggins Scholarship
    • Ye Li (Advisor: Katy Rezvani): Recipient of T.C. Hsu Memorial Scholarship
    • Swetha Anandhan (Advisor: Padmanee Sharma): Cancer Answers/Sylvan Rodriguez Scholarship

  • Research Excellence Award Recipients

    Cheryl Jiang 

    Advisor: Dr. Katy Rezvani 

    Michael Clowers 

    Advisor: Seyed Javad Moghaddam 

  • 2023-2024 Fellowship Recipients

    Congratulations to these Immunology Program students on receiving fellowship grants for the 2023-2024 Academic Year:

    • Akash Boda (Advisor: Michael Curran): Recipient of Schissler Foundation Fellowship
    • Hao-Nien Chen (Advisor: Dihua Yu): Recipient of Rosalie B. Hite Fellowship 
    • Heather Sonnemann (Advisor: Greg Lizee) Recipient of American Legion Auxiliary in Cancer Research 
    • Anik Banerjee (Advisor: Louise McCullough) Recipient of John and Rebekah Harper Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences  

Student Activities

  • Immunology Club

    Each month the GSBS Immunology Program students hold an Immunology Club meeting to host workshops and faculty-led chalk-talks on varying subjects within or related to immunology, experimental methods, graduate school, and career advancement. Previous events include a patient advocacy group who described their patient-clinical perspective, an introduction to CyTOF workshop by MD Anderson’s co-director of the north campus flow cytometry core facility, and multi-perspective faculty chalk talks about their areas of immunology-related research. A number of social events for students are also held at this time. First year students are welcome to attend. For more information regarding Immunology Club, please contact Michael Clowers, Heather Sonnemann, or Michelle Winkler.

  • Faculty Seminar Series

    GSBS Immunology program will invite MD Anderson and UTHealth faculty researchers from the field of Immunology, and other related fields, to present his/her relevant research. The faculty seminar is open to all Immunology program students and faculty. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, meetings will be held over Zoom for the foreseeable future. For more information regarding the Faculty Seminar Series, please contact Akash Boda, Anu Srinivasamani, or Yimo Sun

  • Forefront of Immunology Seminar Series

    The Forefront of Immunology Seminar Series is an extension of the Faculty Seminar Series that features lectures from external speakers who have done seminal work in the field. The goal of the series is to introduce Program students, postdocs, and faculty to the cutting-edge and current work being done in the field of Immunology while allowing opportunities to network and interact with faculty across institutions. 

    The Forefront in Immunology Seminar Series will occur at least four months out of the academic year. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, meetings will take place over Zoom for the foreseeable future. The virtual meetings will include a research talk with time for Q&A, followed by a breakout session with the speaker and a few interested Program students. For more information regarding the Forefront of Immunology Seminar Series, please contact Akash Boda, Anu Srinivasamani, or Yimo Sun

    Forefront of Immunology Seminar Series Announcement for September 15

  • Program Retreat

    Each year the Immunology Program sponsors a student-organized research retreat, which includes student talks, poster sessions, and a keynote speaker. The retreat is considered to be valuable time away from the laboratory allowing students and faculty to become better acquainted with each other.

  • Seminar Series

    Students are encouraged to attend cancer immunology-related seminars offered by the Center for Cancer Immunology Research (CCIR) and the Center for Inflammation and Cancer (CIC); both Centers are based at MD Anderson and specializing in translational immunology research.  The seminars are wonderful opportunities for students to learn about research led by accomplished scientists.  The CCIR also holds seminars in which students, postdoctoral fellows and PhD-level research staff give talks about their projects, and in return they receive feedback regarding presentation style, experimental design and interpretation of results from faculty.  To be added to the mailing lists for future seminars contact Lauren Porter and specify one or all of the seminar series.

Student Committees

  • Immunology Club Committee

    Immunology Club is a forum for discussion of subjects relevant to immunology, graduate school, and career advancement and is held once a month. This activity is generally organized and run by senior students, i.e., post-candidacy.

    2022 Committee Members:
    o Meredith Frank
    o Madeline Steiner
    o Andrea Hernandez
    o Dr. Laura Bover, Faculty Advisor

  • Research Retreat Committee

    An annual retreat is organized by Program students who develop retreat sessions and invite a nationally renowned scientist to present at the plenary talk. All the students in the Program present their research either in a poster or oral presentation to Program faculty.

    2022 Committee Members:
    o Yating Li
    o Brittany Morrow
    o Rishika Prasad
    o Drew Boagni
    o Avantika Krishna
    o Dr. Jagan Sastry, Faculty Advisor
    o Dr. Roza Nurieva, Faculty Advisor

  • Media Committee

    Primary oversight of media related to the Immunology Program is provided by the Media Committee. Chief activities include maintaining the content on the Program website, as well as publicizing relevant information via social media platforms to help attract high-quality students and faculty to the Immunology community. 

    2022 Committee Members:
    o Yangxi Zheng
    o Cheryl Jiang
    o Sumedha Pareek
    o Pragya Sinha
    o Dr. Cassian Yee, Faculty Advisor

  • Faculty Seminar Committee

    The Faculty Seminar Committee is responsible for organizing seminar series consisting of Immunology Program Faculty presenters. The committee also invites and hosts exceptional outside speakers relevant to the research interests of the Program. Seminar speakers are selected for their relevance in the field of immunology (tumor immunology, checkpoint blockade, GVHD/GVL, infectious disease, inflammation, autoimmunity, etc.).

    2022 Committee Members:
    o Akash Boda
    o Sarah Schneider
    o Yimo Sun
    o Dr. Matthew Gubin, Faculty Advisor

  • Student Recruitment Committee

    The Student Recruitment Committee organizes all Program recruitment activities in an effort to attract first year GSBS students to the Program.

    2022 Committee Members:
    o Meredith Frank
    o Spencer Lea
    o Sara Murphy
    o Michelle Winkler
    o Dr. Seyed Moghadddam, Faculty Advisor
    o Dr. Momoko Yoshimoto, Faculty Advisor

Contact Us

Moghaddam Seyed Javad Moghaddam, MD
Immunology Program Director
Associate Professor, Department of Pulmanary Medicine
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Office: Zayed Building, Z9.5046
Tel: 713-563-0423
Florencia McAllister Florenica McAllister, MD
Immunology Program Co-Director
Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Office: George and Cynthia Mitchell Bldg (BSRB), S7.8116a
Tel: 713-745-0914

Ariel Scott 
Program Coordinator
BSRB S3.8328