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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

Approaches to Fertility Preservation for Young Women With Breast Cancer.

Authors : Razeti MG, Soldato D, Arecco L, Levaggi A, Puglisi S, Solinas C, Agostinetto E, Spinaci S, Lapuchesky L, Genova C, Massarotti C, Lambertini M
Year : 2023
Journal : Clin Breast Cancer
Volume : 23
Pages : 241-248

Thromboembolism and Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Cancer Patients: An Old Foe for New Research.

Authors : Langouo Fontsa M, Aiello MM, Migliori E, Scartozzi M, Lambertini M, Willard-Gallo K, Solinas C
Year : 2022
Journal : Target Oncol
Volume : 17
Pages : 497-505

Immune response to anti-SARS-CoV-2 prime-vaccination in patients with cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Authors : Martins-Branco D, Nader-Marta G, Tecic Vuger A, Debien V, Ameye L, Brandão M, Punie K, Loizidou A, Willard-Gallo K, Spilleboudt C, Awada A, Piccart M, de Azambuja E
Year : 2022
Journal : J Cancer Res Clin Oncol
Pages : 1-6

Role of cardiac MRI in the diagnosis of immune checkpoint inhibitor-associated myocarditis.

Authors : Cau R, Solinas C, De Silva P, Lambertini M, Agostinetto E, Scartozzi M, Montisci R, Pontone G, Porcu M, Saba L
Year : 2022
Journal : Int J Cancer
Volume : 151
Pages : 1860-1873

PRECISION: the Belgian molecular profiling program of metastatic cancer for clinical decision and treatment assignment.

Authors : Thouvenin J, Van Marcke C, Decoster L, Raicevic G, Punie K, Vandenbulcke M, Salgado R, Van Valckenborgh E, Maes B, Joris S, Steichel DV, Vranken K, Jacobs S, Dedeurwaerdere F, Martens G, Devos H, Duhoux FP, Rasschaert M, Pauwels P, Geboes K, Collignon J, Tejpar S, Canon JL, Peeters M, Rutten A, Van de Mooter T, Vermeij J, Schrijvers D, Demey W, Lybaert W, Van Huysse J, Mebis J, Awada A, Claes KBM, Hebrant A, Van der Meulen J, Delafontaine B, Bempt IV, Maetens J, de Hemptinne M, Rottey S, Aftimos P, De Grève J
Year : 2022
Journal : ESMO Open
Volume : 7
Pages : 100524