Infection and Immunity


World class scientist addresses the IIT Symposium

By Jade A E Donovan, on 13 July 2018

Professor Shimon Sakaguchi from Osaka University (right) pictured with Professor Hans Stauss, IIT Director at the 2018 IIT SymposiumProfessor Shimon Sakaguchi, Distinguished Professor at Osaka University in Japan, was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Immunology Symposium held by the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT) at the Royal Free Hospital on 10 July.

He delivered the annual Pears Lecture on the function of regulatory T cells, those cells in our bodies that control the activity of the human immune system.

Professor Sakaguchi discovered the regulatory T cells and showed that they are essential for our immune system to protect healthy tissues while eliminating infected cells.  The absence of these cells causes severe autoimmune tissue damage in patients with rare inherited defects. His work has provided an extremely important foundation for biomedical researchers around the world.  Scientists at the IIT and other research institutions are now developing strategies to use regulatory T cells as ‘life medicine’ for the treatment of patients who suffer from autoimmune disease.

Professor Hans Stauss, IIT Director, said: “We were hugely honoured to have Professor Sakaguchi speak at the symposium and share with us his newest research and how it can help to develop new medicines for patients.”

The IIT Immunology Symposium is an annual event showcasing the world-leading research taking place at this institute within the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. This year it was attended by around 250 biomedical researchers and clinicians at various stages of their careers. A prize was awarded for the best presentation given by an early career researcher.

Presentations on the diverse immunology research work carried out at the IIT included improving the body’s acceptance of transplantation, progress on the use of genetic information to develop therapies for patients with inherited immune defects and new approaches to treating hepatitis B. Depending on the clinical condition, the IIT aims to strengthen immunity or create tolerance in the immune system and to treat inherited defects.

The institute is going from strength to strength and research teams will move into the purpose-built Pears Building in 2020.  This is currently under construction next to the Royal Free Hospital and has been made possible by the fundraising of the Royal Free Charity, which includes securing a generous donation from the Pears Foundation.

Image: Professor Shimon Sakaguchi from Osaka University (right) pictured with Professor Hans Stauss, IIT Director at the 2018 IIT Symposium

IIT opens its door to young scientists

By Jade A E Donovan, on 22 June 2018


Year 11 and 12 students from Regent High School, Woodhouse College, Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College in London and Peter Symonds College in Winchester had hands-on lab experience at the IIT open day.


Over 60 students from schools in London and the south east were immersed in the advanced clinical research which happens at the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT), located at the Royal Free Hospital, during the institute’s annual schools open day on 21 June.

Leading biomedical scientists shared the latest developments in their research with the students. There were presentations on viruses, transplant immunology, and how vaccines work in older people. Hands-on activities such as using a pipette, viewing live cells under a microscope to understand their structure and scope, separating blood into its different components and inflating a sheep’s lung were all part of a busy afternoon for the participants.

“Every year it is wonderful to open our doors to young people. It gives them the opportunity to see us at work and have an insight into the research that is going on almost on their doorstep, and it is refreshing for us to be challenged by their questions and interest,” says Professor Hans Stauss, director of the IIT.

“We hope that events like this encourage school students to think about what they could contribute to society through a career in science. Research is long process but the IIT has already made some significant discoveries that are changing the way in which patients are treated for certain diseases.”

The presentations included a report from Emma Morris, Professor of Clinical Cell and Gene Therapy. During this year she has been working on a project with year 12 students from Graveney School in Tooting south London. This has involved molecular biology experiments in the school and at UCL to generate tools for cancer immunotherapy with gene-modified immune cells.

The UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation is a world leading research centre on the human immune system.  It brings together doctors, nurses, scientists and patients who are all focused on testing new medicines and therapies, and methods for traditional and stem cell transplantation. This means the timeframe for developing new treatments for patients will be substantially shorter. Research teams are working on diseases that affect many people in our local communities including diabetes, hepatitis, and cancers.

Construction is underway for a new home for the IIT next door to the Royal Free Hospital. This will be known as the Pears Building and will be completed in autumn 2020. As a dedicated, modern research facility it will offer more opportunities for young people to engage with the clinical research that will be carried out there.

Institute of Immunity & Transplantation Open Day 2016

By Jade A E Donovan, on 6 September 2016

iitopendayThe Royal Free Hospital held its second annual open day of the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT), where students, patients and members of the public found out about ground-breaking research being carried out by it’s world-leading researchers.

Hosted by Institute Director, Professor Hans Stauss, the event welcomed a number of students, plus members of the public, from across the North London area. Visitors enjoyed a variety of interactive stands demonstrating the work carried about by the Institute, and learnt about careers in medical research. Attendee’s also had the opportunity to meet with doctors and researchers, plus hear about clinical trials for new medicines taking place at the Royal Free Hospital.

Some of the world’s top scientists spoke about their research, including the development of new types of medicines to treat cancer, transplant immunology and immunity in the liver. The open day also featured talks on the development of ground-breaking treatments for conditions including leukaemia, lung cancer and haemophilia, and how new organs are being built from stem cells.

Participant feedback was positive, indicating that attendees found the day both educational and entertaining.

IIT Annual Immunology Symposium with Pears Lecture

By Jade A E Donovan, on 21 January 2016

The UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT) is hosting the annual science symposium on Tuesday 21 June 2016 at the Royal Free Hospital.

International leaders will present the latest research developments in molecular and cellular aspects of the immune system in health and disease. Highlights will include new insights into immune regulation of tissue function and regeneration, novel treatments of inflammatory disease and gene therapy for inherited conditions.

When Tuesday 21 June 2016, 9am-6pm (followed by a drinks reception at 6–7pm)

Where Sir William Wells Atrium and Lecture Theatre 1, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London, NW3 2QG

The conference provides an opportunity for scientists and clinicians to meet and learn about how research leads to novel therapies for patient benefit.

Submitted abstracts will be selected for presentation and prizes will be awarded for the best oral presentation and the best poster.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Professor Peter Parham – Stanford University
  • Professor Anne O’Garra – The Francis Crick Institute
  • Professor David Adams – University of Birmingham
  • Professor Adrian Thrasher – UCL Institute of Child Health
  • Professor Alison Lloyd – UCL Molecular Cell Biology
  • Dr Clare Bennett – UCL IIT and Cancer Institute
  • Dr Victoria Male – UCL IIT
  • Professor Chris Denton – UCL IIT
  • Dr Milica Vukmanovic-Stejic – UCL IIT
  • Dr Matthew Reeves – UCL IIT
  • Dr Joe Grove – UCL IIT
  • Dr Derralynn Hughes – UCL IIT and Cancer Institute
  • Dr Siobhan Burns – UCL IIT

The programme for the day can be found via the following link: IIT SYMPOSIUM PROGRAMME 2016

To register, visit: