Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren group - Immune responses to human virus infections and cancer

We have a strong interest in the human immune system. The group is studying immune reactions towards human viral infections and vaccines, in particular in the field of flavivirus-, hantavirus-, and corona-virus, in particular SARS-CoV-2 virus infections. The group is also interested in improving human immunity against cancer, and to establish novel means of treating human cancer by the development of next-generation NK cell-based cellular immunotherapies.

About our research

In collaboration with a large network of academic and industrial collaborators within a program financed by Sweden’s Innovation Agency (Vinnova), members of the group are contributing towards the development of “next-generation” highly optimized, rapidly accessible and cost-effective, precision-based autologous and allogeneic NK cell therapies against a broad range of human cancers. They will encompass, highly differentiated NK cells, metabolically optimized NK cells, genetically engineered NK cells and/or NK cells stimulated by external modulators for enhanced clinical safety and efficacy.

SARS-CoV-2 studies

Members of the group are also active in projects studying immune reactions towards human viral infections, in particular against flaviviruses (in particular TBEV, JEV, and YFV), hantaviruses (Puumula and Andes viruses), and SARS-CoV-2. The group is also studying vaccine responses against flaviviruses and SARS-CoV-2. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, vaccine studies encompass studies of immunocompromised individuals.

Covid-19 biobank

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the group has been very active in building up a large Covid-19 biobank for immediate immunological research efforts and for long-term research. Several studies early on contributed to our understanding of immune reactions towards SARS-CoV-2.

The group has driven, and been involved in, several clinical trials in the fields of adoptive immunotherapies against human cancer as well as in human vaccinations against flavivirus infections and SARS-CoV-2. In the course of the SARS-CoV pandemic, the group leader has taken active responsibility towards a large number of request from media.

Covid-19 Cell Atlas

The research group has contributed to the establishment of the KI/K COVID-19 Immune Atlas which aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the human immune response in COVID-19 disease.


NK cells, innate immunity, adaptive immunity, T cells, virus, cancer, hematology, immunotherapy, vaccine

Interview about the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Following the announcement, Professor Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren was interviewed by free lance journalist Jan-Olov Johansson about the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Speaking at the World Stem Cell Summit 2018

Video from Day 3 of the World Stem Cell Summit 2018 with the title: Reversing Cancer with Immunotherapies and Exosomes where Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, MD, PhD (Karolinska Institutet) was one of the invited speakers.

Group leader

Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren

Professor/senior physician
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Hans-Gustaf received his MD and PhD from Karolinska Institutet between 1982 and 1992. He completed a two-year post-doc fellowship at M.I.T., Boston, USA 1992-1994. He then returned to KI and started his own research group at the Department of Microbiology Tumor and Cell Biology in 1994. In 2001, Hans-Gustaf was appointed Professor at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge and there founded the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM).

Group members

Mira Akber

Research technician
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Mira Akber has been working at Karolinska institutet since October 2019 as a research assistant in the field of immunology. Currently, Mira Akber is working as a research technician with Covid-19 vaccine sample processing and Biobank.

She completed her PhD preparatory training from Uppsala graduate school for biomedical research (UGSBR), Uppsala University where she worked on “the Role of Peroxiredoxin II and ICAM3 as Biomarker in NK and DC mediated HIV1 Infection”. She also did her masters in molecular biology with an external thesis from Lund University. During her master thesis work, Mira analyzed the dynamic pattern of the bicoid (bcd) mRNA and protein in various mutant Drosophila fly lines using molecular, genetic and cell biological techniques.

Benedict Chambers

H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Benedict Chambers is leading the team NK cells in the development of adaptive immune responses within the Hans-Gustaf Ljunggrens research group.


Puran Chen

Postdoctoral researcher
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Puran Chen received his Medical Degree from Karolinska Institutet in 2015, and his PhD in 2020. He joined the group as a Postdoctoral researcher, focusing on SARS-CoV-2 research where he have coordinated the efforts for the joint Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital SARS-CoV-2 sample collection as well as several clinical trials in the same context. The research focuses on data-driven translational research in SARS-CoV-2 and aims at improving AI-assisted clinical decision making.

H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Angelica Cuapio Gomez is an MD with a doctorate from the University of Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany. In 2018, after a two year Post Doc at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, she joined the Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren group to study the immunopathogenic effects of natural killer cells in viral infections targeting the central nervous system. Angelica's scientific trajectory has involved natural killer cells in three different scenarios: autoimmunity, cancer and viral infections.

Quirin Hammer

Assistant professor
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Quirin Hammer is leading the team Innate Immune Regulation within the Hans-Gustaf Ljunggrens research group.

Tyler Sandberg

Postdoctoral researcher
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Tyler Sandberg joined the group in 2016 as a PhD student, focusing on B cell responses towards different flavivirus vaccines as well as investigating new vaccine strategies against these infections.

Tyler received his Master of Science in Immunology and Infection Biology from Uppsala University in 2016, where he worked on understanding vaccine responses in germinal center reactions in non-human primates.

David Wullimann

PhD student
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

David Wulliman joined the Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren group, amidst the covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, as a doctoral student to focus his work on understanding the cell-mediated immune response to flavivirus vaccination and advance current global vaccine strategies against flavivirus infection.  

During his degree project as a Master’s student in Molecular Biology with Medical Biology as specialization from Lund University, David studied the molecular effects of exercise on the effector function of CD8 T cells.

Previous group members

Post docs (years)

Algarra, I., 1990-92; DeFries, R., 1994-95; DiPalo, D., 1994-96; Chambers, B., 1994-98; Norbury, C., 1996-97; Diehl, A., 1997-99; Shi, F.D., 1999-2001; Berglund, P., 1999-2001; Wilson, J., 1999-2001; Wang, H.B., 2000-01; Screpanti, V., 2002-04; Applequist, S., 2000-06; Donati, D., 2002-06; Achour, A., 2002-04; Malmberg, K.J., 2003-06; Guimaraes, F., 2004-06; Wacnik, P.W., 2004-06; van Hall, T., 2005-06; Waering, M., 2004-07; Baumann, B., 2004-06; Fauriat, C., 2006-09; Bryceson, Y., 2008-10; Wood, S, 2009-; Anthoni, M., 2009-11; Braun, M., 2010-; Darmanin, S., 2010-12; Kekäläinen, E., 2012-14; Mjösberg, J., Sweden, 2012-13; Marquardt, N., 2013-17; Blom, K., 2016-; Cuapio, A., 2017-, Chen, P., 2020-

Selected collaborators, Karolinska Institutet

Evren Alici, NK cell-based immunotherapies, clinical trials, NK cell-tumor cell engagers, oncolytic viruses, small molecule NK cell modulators

Jakob Michaelsson, Tissue specific immunity, mRNA profiling of innate immune cells

Nicole Marquardt, Tissue specific immunity, flow-cytometry based profiling of innate immune cells

Kalle Malmberg, Development of NK cell-based immunotherapies for treatment of human cancer, clinical trials

Jonas Klingström, Immunity and Immunopathogenesis of human hantavirus infections

Sara Gredmark-Russ, Immunity and immunopathogenesis of human flavivirus and SARS-CoV-2 infection

Karin Loré, Immunity towards flavivirus and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines

Niklas Björkström, Immunity to and immunopathogenesis of human hepatitis and SARS-CoV-2 viruses

Soo Aleman, Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 viruses and vaccines

Kristoffer Strålin, Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 viruses

Marcus Buggert, T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 viruses and vaccines

Johan Sandberg, Innate T cell immunity to SARS-CoV viruses and vaccines

Research support

  • Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Cancer Society
  • Tobias Foundation
  • Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Stockholm County Council
  • Vinnova
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