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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
A super-resolution microscopy image of a T cell

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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.

  • 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 Amberly Alexander and specify one or all of the seminar series.

Student Committees

  • Immunology 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.

    2024 Committee Members:

    • Andrea Hernandez
    • Krithikaa Bhanu
    • Maria Grimaldo
    • Rishika Prasad
    • Yimo Sun 

    Dr. Laura Bover, 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. 

    2024 Committee Members:


    o Gemalene Sunga
    o Haoyi Wu
    o Minyue Chen
    o Shao-Hsi Hung
    o Dr. Cassian Yee, Faculty Advisor

  • CCIR Seminar Committee

    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.  

    2024 Committee Members:

    o Andres Lopez-Rivas
    o Hao-Nien Chen 
    o Sarah Schneider 
    o Shao-Ping Yang
    o Dr. Matthew Gubin, Faculty Advisor 
    o Dr. Gheath Al-Atrash, 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.

    2024 Committee Members:

    o Benjamin Whitfield  
    o Emily Bontekoe
    o Ivana William
    o Sarah Schneider

    o Dr. Seyed Moghadddam, Faculty Advisor
    o Dr. Florencia McAllister, 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
Email: smoghadd@mdanderson.org 
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
Email: fmcallister@mdanderson.org 
Scott_Ariel.jpg

Ariel Scott 
Program Coordinator
713-745-0662
Ariel.B.Scott@uth.tmc.edu
BSRB S3.8328 

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