Marcus Buggert group - T cell immunity to viral infections and cancer

We conduct innovative studies of cell-mediated immunity in health, cancer and viral disease.

Illustration, research
Illustration of project outlines in the Marcus Buggert research group.

About our research

Our group conducts research on cell-mediated immunity. More specifically, we are interested in understanding how memory T cells recognize and eliminates viral infections and tumors. Much of our research is focused on the CD8+ T cell arm of cell-mediated immunity. CD8+ T cells are absolutely critical for immune control of most viral infections, and also represent a major cellular component of immune therapies that have entirely revolutionized cancer care.

However, many still view CD8+ T cells solely as killer T cells eliminating virus-infected or tumor cells based on concepts from studies of peripheral blood. Emerging data from us and others have demonstrated that most memory CD8+ T cells in human tissues are resident cells with limited recirculation capacity back to peripheral blood. These CD8+ T cells in tissues show differential transcriptional, epigenetic, and functional programming from circulating CD8+ T cells. This is important, as these data indicate that previous studies in blood have largely failed to capture how memory CD8+ T cells function and potentially control human diseases in tissues.

Studies of different aspects of human memory T cell biology

Our group use cutting-edge bulk- and single-cell technologies including 30-parameter flow cytometry, gene-expression, RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, TCR-seq and proteomics analysis to dissect the heterogeneity and function of memory T cell immunity. Through these platforms, we study different aspects of human memory T cell biology, with an overall aim toi) study the heterogeneity of circulating and resident memory T cells in human organ donors, ii) identify alternative functions of memory T cells in human tissues, and iii) understand how memory T cells maintain control of tumors and viral infections, such as HIV and SARS-CoV-2.

A group of people sitting and standing up together.
Marcus Buggert research group. From left to right (standing): Yu Gao, Sarah Adamo, Christian Constantz, Vera Nilsen, Curtis Cai, Oriana Ribeiro, Jinghua Wu, Marcus Buggert. From left to right (sitting): Takuya Sekine, Olga Rivera-Ballesteros, Thomas Müller, Mily Akhirunnesa. Photo: Efthymia Kokkinou


The research group's lab is located in a vibrant research environment at the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM) in the top modern ANA Futura laboratories. Here, we function in close conjunction with other research groups at CIM, and also collaborate with clinicians and surgeons at the Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge to receive valuable samples. We also collaborate with other researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Science for Life laboratories in Sweden, as well with leading researchers in our field from universities in Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and USA.

Group leader

Marcus Buggert

PhD, Docent
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Marcus Buggert's research is focused on studies of human circulating and resident memory CD8+ T cell functions in health, cancer and HIV infection.

Marcus conducted both Master studies in Biomedicine and his PhD at Karolinska Institutet (KI). After his post-doctoral studies at University of Pennsylvania, Marcus came back to KI where he joined CIM as an Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator. Marcus became a docent at KI in 2021.

Marcus loves sport (more watching than executing) and spending time with his family and friends.

Group members

Sarah Adamo

Postdoctoral researcher

At CIM, Sarah Adamo’s work is focused on human T cell memory formation and maintenance in response to viral infections. 

Sarah received her PhD in Immunology in 2022 at the University of Zurich, where she worked on T cell memory development upon SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Sarah enjoys books, yoga and a nice meal with friends.

Akhirunnesa Mily

Laboratory manager

Mily is Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddrb), Bangladesh (2005).
Senior Research Officer at icddrb (2006-2016). Mily has a PhD in infection and immunology at CIM. 

At CIM Olga Rivera Ballesteros' work is focused on understanding the heterogeneity and functions of follicular CD8+ T cells, with attention to HIV and cancer immunity.

Olga received her MSc in Immunology and Inflammation in 2019 at University of Copenhagen where she studied the immunomodulatory role of mesenchymal stem cells.

She enjoys hiking, practicing yoga, photography, and good conversations with friends. 

Curtis Cai

Postdoctoral researcher

At CIM, Curtis Cai is applying lab- and computational single-cell multi-omics to study vaccine responses and tissue-specific distribution of memory T cells.

Curtis received his PhD in Pathology in 2021 at the University of New South Wales, Australia. There he studied T cell responses of human viral infections and immunotherapy using, what was at the time, the emerging technique of scRNA-seq.

Don’t be surprised to find Curtis outdoors making the most of the splendid Swedish summers and white winters. 

Christian’s PhD project involves better characterizing the differing T cell receptor clonality and effector functions of resident memory CD8+ T cells located within various tissues in the human body.

Previously, Christian was a member of Dr. Mark Davis’ group at Stanford University, where he worked extensively with tonsil organoids to model the human adaptive immune response. He has also been a member of Dr. Rachel Rutishauser’s group at University of California - San Francisco (UCSF) where he worked on different projects related to CD8+ T cells development and functions.

When not in the lab, Christian likes to run, play PC games and binge watch way too many TV series. He looks forward to exploring nature in Sweden and going to the beach (when it’s >20C outside).


Research specialist

At CIM, Yu Gao’s work is focused on phenotype and function of human T cells against viral infection, such as SARS-CoV-2 and Monkeypox. Yu Gao received his PhD in Immunology in 2017 at Karolinska Institutet. There he studied T cell responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections and T cell development in thymus, using various gene-modified mouse models.

In his spare time, Yu Gao enjoys playing basketball and tennis.

Thomas Müller

Postdoctoral researcher

At CIM, Thomas Müller investigates the functional role of tissue-resident memory T cells in the tumor microenvironment, ultimately aiming at translation into novel strategies for the treatment of solid tumors.

Thomas received his PhD in Experimental Medicine in 2021 at the Technical University in Munich. There he studied the biology of the T cell receptor (TCR) and developed CRISPR/Cas9-mediated orthotopic TCR replacement to generate improved TCR-edited T cells for immunotherapy.

In his spare time, he loves being outdoors to ride his bike, swim, or hike mountains. He also enjoys cooking, especially when it’s accompanied by good friends and a drink.

Oriana Ribeiro

Research assistant

At CIM, Oriana Ribeiro works with, and help on various exciting ongoing projects of cell-mediated immunity in health, cancer and viral disease. At CIM she also has the opportunity to learn and develop her laboratory skills.

Oriana received her MSc in Molecular Biomedicine in 2021 at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, where she studied the epigenetic mechanisms in prostate cancer radiotherapy resistance. She also did an internship at the SciLifeLab, to study the interaction between γδ T cells and tumor spheroids.

Oriana enjoys swimming, riding her bike, exploring nature, and especially travelling.

Takuya Sekine

Assistant professor

Takuya Sekine's work is focused on characterizing exhausted and tumor infiltrating CD8+ T cells in disease conditions, such as Langerhans cell histiocytosis. He is also studying the functional heterogeneity of CD8+ T cells residing in lymph nodes and other secondary lymphoid organs.

Takuya received his PhD in 2016 from Imperial College London. 

In his spare time, Tak enjoys exercise (running, swimming), playing football and exploring new coffee spots.

Jinghua Wu

PhD student

At CIM, Jinghua Wu's work is focused on understanding the functional T cell responses in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Jinghua received her MSc in Medicine in 2018 at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine. There her research focused on elucidating the monocytes/macrophages' role during the inflammation, the resolution, and the regeneration stage of acute pancreatitis (AP) from an immunological perspective.

In her spare time, Jinghua enjoys playing with her cat (Carrot), watching TV series, hanging out with friends and traveling to different countries.

Joel Rurik

Postdoctoral researcher

Joel’s work is centered on the formation of human T cell memory following cardiac injury with a particular interest in developing next-generation, RNA-based cell therapies.

Joel received his PhD in 2023 from the University of Pennsylvania where he developed novel RNA delivery technologies to generate chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapeutics within the body to treat cardiac fibrosis and explored how the cardiac mesenchyme interacts with the immune system.

Outside of the laboratory Joel enjoys birdwatching, reading about history, and exploring new coffees.

Open positions 

We are constantly looking for talented post docs with an ambition to explore new and unique aspects of human T cell immunology, tissue immunology, and related questions.

If interested, please contact the Group leader: 

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Research support

  • The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)  
  • The European Research Council (ERC)  
  • Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW)  
  • The Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden)  
  • Åke Wiberg Stiftelse  
  • Jeanssons Stiftelser  
  • The Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation (Barncancerfonden)  
  • The Swedish Heart Lung Foundation (Hjärt-Lungfonden)  
  • Center for Innovative Medicine (CIMED) 
  • The Swedish Society for Medical Research (SSMF)
  • PolyBio Research Foundation

Selected publications


Functional SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive CD4+ T cells established in early childhood decline with age.
Humbert M, Olofsson A, Wullimann D, Niessl J, Hodcroft EB, Cai C, Gao Y, Sohlberg E, Dyrdak R, Mikaeloff F, Neogi U, Albert J, Malmberg KJ, Lund-Johansen F, Aleman S, Björkhem-Bergman L, Jenmalm MC, Ljunggren HG, Buggert M, Karlsson AC
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2023 Mar;120(12):e2220320120

Memory profiles distinguish cross-reactive and virus-specific T cell immunity to mpox.
Adamo S, Gao Y, Sekine T, Mily A, Wu J, Storgärd E, Westergren V, Filén F, Treutiger CJ, Sandberg JK, Sällberg M, Bergman P, Llewellyn-Lacey S, Ljunggren HG, Price DA, Ekström AM, Sette A, Grifoni A, Buggert M
Cell Host Microbe 2023 Apr;():


Elevated CD21low B Cell Frequency Is a Marker of Poor Immunity to Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2 in Patients with Common Variable Immunodeficiency.
Bergman P, Wullimann D, Gao Y, Wahren Borgström E, Norlin AC, Lind Enoksson S, Aleman S, Ljunggren HG, Buggert M, Smith CIE
J Clin Immunol 2022 Mar;():

T-cell immune responses following vaccination with mRNA BNT162b2 against SARS-CoV-2 in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia: results from a prospective open-label clinical trial.
Blixt L, Wullimann D, Aleman S, Lundin J, Chen P, Gao Y, Cuapio A, Akber M, Lange J, Rivera-Ballesteros O, Buggert M, Ljunggren HG, Hansson L, Österborg A
Haematologica 2022 Apr;107(4):1000-1003

Ancestral SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells cross-recognize the Omicron variant.
Gao Y, Cai C, Grifoni A, Müller TR, Niessl J, Olofsson A, Humbert M, Hansson L, Österborg A, Bergman P, Chen P, Olsson A, Sandberg JK, Weiskopf D, Price DA, Ljunggren HG, Karlsson AC, Sette A, Aleman S, Buggert M
Nat Med 2022 03;28(3):472-476

Immunodeficiency syndromes differentially impact the functional profile of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells elicited by mRNA vaccination.
Gao Y, Cai C, Wullimann D, Niessl J, Rivera-Ballesteros O, Chen P, Lange J, Cuapio A, Blennow O, Hansson L, Mielke S, Nowak P, Vesterbacka J, Akber M, Perez-Potti A, Sekine T, Müller TR, Boulouis C, Kammann T, Parrot T, Muvva JR, Sobkowiak M, Healy K, Bogdanovic G, Muschiol S, Söderdahl G, Österborg A, Hellgren F, Grifoni A, Weiskopf D, Sette A, Loré K, Sällberg Chen M, Ljungman P, Sandberg JK, Smith CIE, Bergman P, Ljunggren HG, Aleman S, Buggert M
Immunity 2022 Sep;55(9):1732-1746.e5

Hybrid immunity in immunocompromised patients with CLL after SARS-CoV-2 infection followed by booster mRNA vaccination.
Blixt L, Gao Y, Wullimann D, Murén Ingelman-Sundberg H, Muschiol S, Healy K, Bogdanovic G, Pin E, Nilsson P, Kjellander C, Grifoni A, Sette A, Sällberg Chen M, Ljunggren HG, Buggert M, Hansson L, Österborg A
Blood 2022 Dec;140(22):2403-2407


Safety and efficacy of the mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in five groups of immunocompromised patients and healthy controls in a prospective open-label clinical trial.
Bergman P, Blennow O, Hansson L, Mielke S, Nowak P, Chen P, Söderdahl G, Österborg A, Smith CIE, Wullimann D, Vesterbacka J, Lindgren G, Blixt L, Friman G, Wahren-Borgström E, Nordlander A, Gomez AC, Akber M, Valentini D, Norlin AC, Thalme A, Bogdanovic G, Muschiol S, Nilsson P, Hober S, Loré K, Chen MS, Buggert M, Ljunggren HG, Ljungman P, Aleman S,
EBioMedicine 2021 Dec;74():103705

Human mucosal tissue-resident memory T cells in health and disease.
Lange J, Rivera-Ballesteros O, Buggert M
Mucosal Immunol 2021 Nov;():

T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
Niessl J, Sekine T, Buggert M
Semin Immunol 2021 06;55():101505

Identification of resident memory CD8+ T cells with functional specificity for SARS-CoV-2 in unexposed oropharyngeal lymphoid tissue.
Niessl J, Sekine T, Lange J, Konya V, Forkel M, Maric J, Rao A, Mazzurana L, Kokkinou E, Weigel W, Llewellyn-Lacey S, Hodcroft EB, Karlsson AC, Fehrm J, Sundman J, Price DA, Mjösberg J, Friberg D, Buggert M
Sci Immunol 2021 Oct;6(64):eabk0894


Deciphering the ins and outs of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells.
Perez-Potti A, Lange J, Buggert M
Nat Immunol 2021 01;22(1):8-9

The Identity of Human Tissue-Emigrant CD8+ T Cells.
Buggert M, Vella LA, Nguyen S, Wu VH, Chen Z, Sekine T, Perez-Potti A, Maldini CR, Manne S, Darko S, Ransier A, Kuri-Cervantes L, Japp AS, Brody IB, Ivarsson MA, Gorin JB, Rivera-Ballesteros O, Hertwig L, Antel JP, Johnson ME, Okoye A, Picker L, Vahedi G, Sparrelid E, Llewellyn-Lacey S, Gostick E, Sandberg JK, Björkström N, Bar-Or A, Dori Y, Naji A, Canaday DH, Laufer TM, Wells AD, Price DA, Frank I, Douek DC, Wherry EJ, Itkin MG, Betts MR
Cell 2020 Dec;183(7):1946-1961.e15

The known unknowns of T cell immunity to COVID-19.
Karlsson AC, Humbert M, Buggert M
Sci Immunol 2020 11;5(53):

Robust T Cell Immunity in Convalescent Individuals with Asymptomatic or Mild COVID-19.
Sekine T, Perez-Potti A, Rivera-Ballesteros O, Strålin K, Gorin JB, Olsson A, Llewellyn-Lacey S, Kamal H, Bogdanovic G, Muschiol S, Wullimann DJ, Kammann T, Emgård J, Parrot T, Folkesson E, , Rooyackers O, Eriksson LI, Henter JI, Sönnerborg A, Allander T, Albert J, Nielsen M, Klingström J, Gredmark-Russ S, Björkström NK, Sandberg JK, Price DA, Ljunggren HG, Aleman S, Buggert M
Cell 2020 10;183(1):158-168.e14

TOX is expressed by exhausted and polyfunctional human effector memory CD8+ T cells.
Sekine T, Perez-Potti A, Nguyen S, Gorin JB, Wu VH, Gostick E, et al
Sci Immunol 2020 Jul;5(49):

Elite control of HIV is associated with distinct functional and transcriptional signatures in lymphoid tissue CD8+ T cells.
Nguyen S, Deleage C, Darko S, Ransier A, Truong DP, Agarwal D, et al
Sci Transl Med 2019 12;11(523):

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