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.

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 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 both at the Oslo University Hospital and at the Karolinska Institute.


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

Group leader

Karl-Johan Malmberg   

Professor, Group Leader

Karl-Johan Malmberg received his M.D. (2000) and PhD (2003) from Karolinska Institutet. He is a specialist in Hematology and currently hold a position as Professor of Immunology at the University of Oslo, Norway and a Visiting Professor in Cell-Based Cancer Immunotherapy at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. He is a Co-Director of the Department of Cancer immunology, Institute for cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital (OUH) and since 2019 he leads StratCell, a strategic research program at the OUH. He is the Co-Director of the recently formed competence center in NK cell therapy funded by Vinnova physically located at the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute.

Group members, KI team

Ebba Sohlberg

Phd, Project Manager

Ebba completed her PhD at Stockholm University on the neonatal innate immune system and herpesviruses.  After a post-doc in the group she is now a project manager 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

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. He is now a post-doc in the group and his work focuses on developing next-generation NK cell immunotherapy against cancer. When not at work, Quirin enjoys learning chess, having coffee, and socializing.

Alvaro Haroun-Izquierdo

PhD student

Alvaro obtained his Masters degree in Genetics from the University of Glasgow, UK in 2016. He is now a PhD student in the group and his work focuses on understanding basic principles governing NK cell cytotoxicity with the specific goal of applying this knowledge to NK-cell immunotherapy approaches. In his free-time he enjoys cooking, reading, and downhill skiing.

Pouria Momayyezi

PhD student
PhD student

Pouria received his medical degree from Karolinska Institute in 2015 and is currently a resident in Hematology at the Karolinska University hospital. His 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.

Oisin Huhn

Postdoctoral fellow

Oisin completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge and AstraZeneca in 2020. His research focused on the role of tissue resident innate lymphoid cells in pregnancy and ovarian cancer. His post-doc will focus on tuning the responses of NK cells and the mechanisms behind their "molecular memory". Outside the lab, he is looking forward to exploring all Stockholm has to offer.

Pilar Lanuza Morte

Postdoctoral fellow

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. She is now a post-doc in the group and her work focuses on NK cell tuning to develop new strategies for NK cell-based immunotherapy. When not at work Pilar enjoys nature activities, music, and reading.

Andreas Björklund

MD, PhD, Specialist in Hematology and Internal medicine

Andreas 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 PI of the Malmberg teams’ first NK cell therapy trial, and 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 of the HLA lab at the Clinical Immunology department at Karolinska University Hospital

Marie completed her PhD at Karolinska Institutet in 2006. The subject was on HLA and KIR polymorphism in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. She is since many years working at Clinical Immunology department where she has the technical responsibility for all HLA-typings related to transplantation. When not at work she enjoys several cultural activities such as singing in choir, reading, watching films and exhibitions.

Group members 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

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. Guest scientists: Marianna Vincenti, Mieszko Lachota, Shuo Li

Previous group 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
Malmberg group

Open positions

We always want to get in touch with highly motivated students and potential post-docs. If you are interested in doing research within our group please contact the group leader Kalle Malmberg.

Research support

  • Barncancerfonden
  • Vetenskapsrådet
  • ALF
  • EU Horizon 2020
  • Vinnova
  • Fate Therapeutics
  • Cancerfonden
  • Knut och Alice Wallenbergs stiftelse