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Molecular Immunology Laboratory (MIU)

The Molecular Immunology Laboratory strives to improve our understanding of the immune response in cancer and how it can be manipulated to the benefit of the patients. It investigates lymphocyte activities in several clinical conditions: 

  • First, by studying the organization and cellular state of CD4+ T cells and germinal center B cells infiltrating the breast cancer microenvironment. This work involves both prospective studies designed to understand the functionality and subpopulations of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes present as well as their organization in peritumoral tertiary lymphoid structures, and retrospective studies that seek to apply these findings in the establishment of an immunological grade for breast cancer.
  • Second, by identifying and characterizing specific changes in gene expression associated with clinical progression during the transition from pre-malignant disease to full-blown malignancy in patients with hypereosinophilic syndrome that develop T cell leukemia/lymphoma.
  • Third, by analyzing specific changes in lymphocyte gene expression, with a focus on transcription factors regulating their normal activities, which are aberrantly regulated in human cancer. Our ultimate goal in the fight against cancer is to further understand how we can harness the power and the specificity of the immune response through its revitalization in the hostile tumor microenvironment to produce effective and sustained anti-tumor immunity.

Research projects

Project 1

Determine the prognostic and predictive value of detecting tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and peritumoral tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) in an effort to establish an Immunological Grade for breast cancer.

Project 2

Investigate the molecular mediators regulating CD4+ T cells and B cells infiltrating breast tumors.

Project 3

Analyze specific TIL subpopulations to understand their role(s) in the anti-tumor immune response, including follicular helper T cells (Tfh) and B cells, their contribution to TLS formation and function and their regulation by regulatory T and B cells.

Project 4

Study the role that aberrant expression of the transcription factor FOXP1 plays in CD4+ T cell persistence and expansion in breast cancer and how it regulates cytokines/chemokines and thereby affects TIL recruitment to tumors.


Project 5

Explore potential links between anti-tumor immune responses and specific mutations in triple negative breast cancer


Head of Unit
Karen Willard-Gallo, Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology, Immunologist
   Email: or

Soizic Garaud, Ph.D., Doctor of Life Sciences and Health, Immunologist
Grégory Noël, Ph.D., Doctor of Life Sciences and Health, Immunologist
Gert Van den Eynden, M.D., M.D., Pathologist at GZA (collaborator)
Laurence Buisseret, M.D., Doctoral thesis student (also related to BCTL)
Cinzia Solinas, Medical Oncologist, Doctoral thesis student
Mireille Langouo FontsaM.D., Doctoral thesis student
Edoardo Migliori, M.S., Doctoral thesis student  
Pushpamali De Silva, M.S., Doctoral thesis student
Anaïs Boisson, M.S., Laboratory Associate
Hugues Duvillier, M.S., Cytometrist
Céline Naveaux, Laboratory Technician (3/5 time)
Laurence Van Schoonwinkel, Laboratory Technician (1/2 time)
Hélène Strainchamps, administrative assistant

+ each year numerous students (stages, memoires, etc.)

 Scientific publications

Targeting CTLA-4 in cancer: Is it the ideal companion for PD-1 blockade immunotherapy combinations?

Authors : De Silva P, Aiello M, Gu-Trantien C, Migliori E, Willard-Gallo K, Solinas C
Year : 2021
Journal : Int J Cancer
Volume : 149
Pages : 31-41

RNA Based Approaches to Profile Oncogenic Pathways From Low Quantity Samples to Drive Precision Oncology Strategies.

Authors : van de Stolpe A, Verhaegh W, Blay JY, Ma CX, Pauwels P, Pegram M, Prenen H, De Ruysscher D, Saba NF, Slovin SF, Willard-Gallo K, Husain H
Year : 2021
Journal : Front Genet
Volume : 11
Pages : 598118

Tumor Cellularity and Infiltrating Lymphocytes (CelTIL) as a Survival Surrogate in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer.

Authors : Chic N, Luen SJ, Nuciforo P, Salgado R, Fumagalli D, Hilbers F, Wang Y, de Azambuja E, Làng I, Di Cosimo S, Saura C, Huober J, Prat A, Loi S
Year : 2021
Journal : J Natl Cancer Inst

Luminal Breast Cancer: Risk of Recurrence and Tumor-Associated Immune Suppression.

Authors : Pellegrino B, Hlavata Z, Migali C, De Silva P, Aiello M, Willard-Gallo K, Musolino A, Solinas C
Year : 2021
Journal : Mol Diagn Ther
Volume : 25
Pages : 409-424

Murlentamab, a Low Fucosylated Anti-Müllerian Hormone Type II Receptor (AMHRII) Antibody, Exhibits Anti-Tumor Activity through Tumor-Associated Macrophage Reprogrammation and T Cell Activation.

Authors : Prat M, Salon M, Allain T, Dubreuil O, Noël G, Preisser L, Jean B, Cassard L, Lemée F, Tabah-Fish I, Pipy B, Jeannin P, Prost JF, Barret JM, Coste A
Year : 2021
Journal : Cancers (Basel)
Volume : 13