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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

Characterization of stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and genomic alterations in metastatic lobular breast cancer.

Authors : Richard F, Majjaj S, Venet D, Rothé F, Pingitore J, Boeckx B, Marchiò C, Clatot F, Bertucci F, Mariani O, Galant C, Van den Eynden GG, Salgado R, Biganzoli E, Lambrechts D, Vincent-Salomon A, Pruneri G, Larsimont DP, Sotiriou C, Desmedt C
Year : 2020
Journal : Clin Cancer Res

Excision Repair Cross Complementation Group 1 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Nivolumab in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Authors : Aiello MM, Solinas C, Santoni M, Battelli N, Restuccia N, Latteri F, Paratore S, Verderame F, Albanese GV, Bruzzi P, Soto Parra HJ
Year : 2020
Journal : Front Oncol
Volume : 10
Pages : 1167

The Relationship Between Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes, PD-L1 Expression, Driver Mutations and Clinical Outcome Parameters in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Adenocarcinoma in Patients with a Limited to no Smoking History.

Authors : Mignon S, Willard-Gallo K, Van den Eynden G, Salgado R, Decoster L, Marien KM, Vansteenkiste JF, Teugels E, De Grève J
Year : 2020
Journal : Pathol Oncol Res
Volume : 26
Pages : 1221-1228

Radiomics and radi-…omics" in cancer immunotherapy: a guide for clinicians."

Authors : Porcu M, Solinas C, Mannelli L, Micheletti G, Lambertini M, Willard-Gallo K, Neri E, Flanders AE, Saba L
Year : 2020
Journal : Crit Rev Oncol Hematol
Volume : 154
Pages : 103068

Programmed Cell Death-Ligand 2: A Neglected But Important Target in the Immune Response to Cancer?

Authors : Solinas C, Aiello M, Rozali E, Lambertini M, Willard-Gallo K, Migliori E
Year : 2020
Journal : Transl Oncol
Volume : 13
Pages : 100811