Kalle Malmberg group - Natural Killer Cell Biology and Cell Therapy

The group studies the molecular and cellular basis for NK cell differentiation and repertoire formation in health and disease.


NK cells, killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors, KIR, allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, immunotherapy, cell therapy

Summary of research

The Malmberg lab focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the formation and diversification of human NK cell repertories. A central aspect of these studies is to examine the dynamic shaping of NK cell function by killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR). We are using a wide range of single cell technologies and imaging tools to study the genetic regulatory circuits involved in shaping the interior of the NK cell, with a primary focus is on lysosomal signaling. 

In more translational efforts, we seek to develop an off-the-shelf NK cell therapy platform and implement new insights into NK cell biology in clinical trials for patients with advanced cancer. The research group is based at the Oslo University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet.


In a film produced by Cancerfonden, Professor Kalle Malmberg talks about the group's research and explains how it is possible to teach the immune system to take on cancer cells (in Swedish).

Interview with Kalle Malmberg about Immunotherapy

Selected publications and Twitter

Group leader

Karl-Johan Malmberg

Professor, Principal Investigator
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Karl-Johan Malmberg is a specialist in Hematology and currently holds a position as Professor of Immunology at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is a Visiting Professor in Cell-Based Cancer Immunotherapy at Karolinska Institutet.

Karl-Johan Malmberg is Co-Director of the Department of Cancer immunology, Institute for cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital (OUH).

Since 2019 he leads StratCell, a strategic research program at the OUH. Karl-Johan is also the Co-Director of the competence center in NK cell therapy (funded by Vinnova), which is located at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge.

He received his M.D (2000) and PhD (2003) from Karolinska Institutet.

Karolinska Institutet team

Karl-Johan Malmberg

Professor, Principal Investigator
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Ebba Sohlberg

PhD, Project Manager
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Ebba Sohlberg completed her PhD at Stockholm University on the neonatal innate immune system and herpesviruses. After a postdoc in the Kalle Malmberg group, Ebba is now Project Manager.

In the group she is continuing her work in the field of NK-cell immunotherapy and translating findings into new patient treatments and clinical studies.

When not at work, Ebba enjoys going to museums and concerts.

Quirin Hammer

PhD, Postdoctoral fellow, Team leader
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Quirin Hammer is leading a team in the Kalle Malmberg group, that investigates molecular mechanisms that regulate innate immune cell responses. His work focuses on developing next-generation NK cell immunotherapy against cancer.

Quirin completed his PhD at the German Rheumatism Research Centre and the Humboldt University of Berlin in 2018. During his PhD, he studied host-pathogen interactions between human natural killer cells and cytomegalovirus.

When not at work, Quirin enjoys learning chess, having coffee, and socializing.

Pilar Maria Lanuza

Postdoctoral researcher
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Pilar Lanuza Morte is postdoc in the Kalle Malmberg group. Her work focuses on NK cell tuning to develop new strategies for NK cell-based immunotherapy.

Pilar completed her PhD at the University of Zaragoza in 2020. During her PhD, she aimed at improving NK cell immunotherapy against solid tumours with drug resistance mutations.

When not at work, Pilar enjoys nature activities, music and reading.

H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Alvaro Haroun-Izquierdo's work in the Kalle Malmberg group focuses on understanding basic principles governing NK cell cytotoxicity. The specific goal of his research is applying this knowledge to NK-cell immunotherapy approaches.

Alvaro obtained his Masters degree in Genetics from the University of Glasgow, UK in 2016.

In his free-time he enjoys cooking, reading and downhill skiing.

Pouria Momayyezi is currently a resident in Hematology at the Karolinska University hospital. He received his medical degree from Karolinska Institutet in 2015.

Pouria's PhD studies concern next-generation NK-cell immunotherapy, specifically prolonging the survival of transferred NK cells in patients receiving immunotherapy.

In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, reading, watching football and experiencing different forms of art, preferably with friends and family.

Petra Balbi

Master student

Petra Balbi is completing her Master’s degree in interdisciplinary sciences at ETH Zürich. She has joined the Malmberg lab to conduct her Master-thesis, investigating cellular and molecular mechanisms behind NK cell education.

She has written her Bachelor thesis on the effects of PTMs on p53 dynamics and signalling at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

In her spare time Petra enjoys all kinds of dancing and playing music as well as being active outdoors, particularly skiing and climbing.

Affiliated Scientists

Andreas Björklund

MD, PhD, Specialist in Hematology and Internal medicine
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Andreas Björklund is working at the Unit for cell therapy and allogeneic stem cell transplantation (CAST) at the Karolinska University hospital.

During his PhD he focused on NK cell maturation and education after allogeneic stem cell transplantation and the impact on relapse risk, infections and GVHD. He was the clinical Principal Investigator of the Kalle Malmberg group’s first NK cell therapy trial. He is now preparing the coming study using adaptive NK cells against chemorefractory AML and MDS.

Andreas is also interested in understanding the regulatory immune environment and the tumor immune niche in relation to different adoptive cell therapies.

Marie Schaffer

PhD, Co-director HLA lab at the Clinical Immunology dept. Karolinska University Hospital
H9 Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology

Since many years Marie Schaffer is working at the Clinical Immunology department, where she has the technical responsibility for all HLA-typings related to transplantation.

Marie completed her PhD at Karolinska Institutet in 2006. The subject was on HLA and KIR polymorphism in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

When not at work, Marie enjoys several cultural activities such as singing in choir, reading, watching films and exhibitions.

OUS team

Project Manager

  • Lise Kveberg

Lab managers

  • Hanne Julie Hoel
  • Merete Thune Wiiger

Senior engineer

  • Silje Zandstra Krokeide

Postdoctoral fellows

  • Minoru Kanaya
  • Mizuha Kosugi-Kanaya
  • Artur Cieslar-Pobuda
  • Edina Szabo
  • Rakesh Kumar

Immune informatics and computational biology

  • Trevor Clancy
  • Herman Netskar

Ph.D. Candidates

  • Dennis Clement
  • Eivind Heggernes Ask
  • Daniel Alfredo Palacios Orellana
  • Michelle Lu Sætersmoen
  • Camille Philippon
  • Marianna Vincenti
  • Thorstein Boxaspen

Guest scientist

  • Mieszko Lachota

Previous Malmberg lab members

  • Sandra Anderson
  • Bettina Baumann
  • Axel Berg-Larsen 
  • Vivien Beziat
  • Mattias Carlsten
  • Kishan Kumar Chudasama
  • Monika Enqvist
  • Cyril Fauriat
  • Jodie Peter Goodridge
  • Benedikt Jakobs
  • Lisa Liu
  • Vincent Oei
  • Yi Sheng
  • Astrid Tschan Plessl
  • Veronika Kremer
  • Aline Pfefferle
  • Shuo-Li
  • Oisin Huhn
Malmberg group

Open positions

We always want to get in touch with highly motivated students and potential postdocs. If you are interested in doing research within our group, please contact the Group leader

Financial support A-Z

  • ALF
  • Barncancerfonden
  • Cancerfonden
  • EU Horizon 2020
  • Fate Therapeutics
  • KAW
  • Merck
  • SSF
  • Vetenskapsrådet
  • Vinnova