The Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology blends the latest genomics and genome engineering technologies with immunology research to engineer the human immune system for therapeutic benefit.

Understanding the rules governing the human immune system—in health and disease contexts—is crucial to developing powerful new treatments for patients. Cutting-edge genomics and gene-editing technologies now give us the power to achieve such an understanding.

By learning how DNA sequences in the genome code for critical functions of human immune cells and how these functions can fail, we will generate a blueprint that will allow us to reprogram our own immune cells to act as sentinels and warriors in the fight against autoimmune disorders, infection, immunodeficiency, and cancer.

The institute was founded in 2020 to unite an existing UC San Francisco (UCSF) and Gladstone community of experts in immunology, synthetic biology, human genetics, and CRISPR genome engineering with clinical experts in manufacturing and trial design for novel immunotherapies, among others.

Importantly, the institute will act as a beacon to attract new talent, enabling the team to build complementary areas of expertise in an expanding range of immune cell types, computational approaches, innovative synthetic biology technologies, and human diseases.

“We want to create an ecosystem that brings experts together to think about transformative opportunities for how patients can be treated in the future.”

Alexander Marson, MD, PhD
Director, Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology

Current Research Projects

Genome Engineering Primary Human T Cells

Our researchers have developed a suite of robust CRISPR/Cas9-based technologies that enable genome editing and manipulation in primary human T cells. This enables the investigation of the genetic code that controls the function of these key immune cells and how genetic changes lead to pathological or improved immune cell responses.

Genetic and Epigenetic Mapping of Causal Autoimmune Disease Variants

Although many genome variants have been linked to increased risk of autoimmune disease, the mechanisms by which they cause immune dysfunction are generally unknown. Researchers are mapping the genome, epigenome, and transcriptome of individual immune cells to identify the functions of these genome variants.

Design and Engineering of the Next Generation of Immunotherapies

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells are in clinical use to treat a variety of cancers and other diseases. Taking advantage of recent advances in genome engineering and synthetic biology, researchers are designing and manipulating immune receptors to improve upon traditional CAR T cell designs and broaden the application of these cells and other immunotherapies to a growing range of pathologies.

Director’s Message