Research group Carmen Gerlach

The goal of our research is to unravel basic principles and mechanisms underlying the generation, maintenance, and consequences of the diversity within CD8+ T cell responses.

Diversity within the T cell response, T cell memory

CD8 T cells play a crucial role in providing protection against many infections and cancers, but may also contribute to immunopathology in conditions of continuous antigen presence. In recent years it has become clear that T cells are an extremely diverse group of immune cells, and that different T cell subsets have different properties. 

T cell subsets differ with respect to their expression of cell surface receptors, their production of inflammatory and cytotoxic mediators, their anatomic localization, and their migratory behavior. As a consequence, not all CD8 T cell subsets play an equal role in the control of infections and tumors, or the pathology associated with inflammatory disorders. What we find particularly interesting is that such diversity exists even among CD8 T cells that recognize the exact same antigen. Using a combination of several state-of-the-art single-cell technologies and experimental model systems, we study how different CD8 T cell subsets arise, what their relationship is, and what mechanisms underlie their specific properties. Our long-term goal is that this knowledge will contribute to improved vaccines and immunotherapies. 

Group members

Carmen Gerlach

Principal researcher/Research group leader

Ongoing projects

  • Universal patterns of T cell differentiation across species.
  • Clonal aspects of CD8 T cell responses.
  • Molecular mechanisms underlying the heterogeneity within T cell responses.
  • Exploiting T cell heterogeneity for cancer immunotherapy.


Our lab is actively involved in research education at Karolinska Institutet in the field of immunology. This includes organization of the PhD course ‘Basic Immunology’, teaching on various aspects of T cell immunology and immunological techniques within PhD courses, the Biomedicine Master and Medicine program, as well as research supervision of PhD students. 

The Karolinska Immunology Seminar Series

If you are excited about Immunology, have a look at the most recent program of the Karolinska Immunology Seminar Series.

Selected publications

No-shows in T-cell responses are frequent for clones of low T-cell receptor affinity.
van Gisbergen KPJM, Gerlach C
Eur J Immunol 2023 Mar;53(3):e2250305

T cell fate mapping and lineage tracing technologies probing clonal aspects underlying the generation of CD8 T cell subsets.
Al Khabouri S, Gerlach C
Scand J Immunol 2020 Dec;92(6):e12983

Heavy Water Shedding Light on Antigen-Specific T Cell Responses.
Eidsmo L, Gerlach C
Trends Immunol 2018 03;39(3):170-172

Is There Natural Killer Cell Memory and Can It Be Harnessed by Vaccination? Natural Killer Cells in Vaccination.
Neely HR, Mazo IB, Gerlach C, von Andrian UH
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 2018 10;10(10):

The Chemokine Receptor CX3CR1 Defines Three Antigen-Experienced CD8 T Cell Subsets with Distinct Roles in Immune Surveillance and Homeostasis.
Gerlach C, Moseman EA, Loughhead SM, Alvarez D, Zwijnenburg AJ, Waanders L, Garg R, de la Torre JC, von Andrian UH
Immunity 2016 12;45(6):1270-1284

Single cell behavior in T cell differentiation.
Rohr JC, Gerlach C, Kok L, Schumacher TN
Trends Immunol 2014 Apr;35(4):170-7

Heterogeneous differentiation patterns of individual CD8+ T cells.
Gerlach C, Rohr JC, Perié L, van Rooij N, van Heijst JW, Velds A, Urbanus J, Naik SH, Jacobs H, Beltman JB, de Boer RJ, Schumacher TN
Science 2013 May;340(6132):635-9

Nab2 regulates secondary CD8+ T-cell responses through control of TRAIL expression.
Wolkers MC, Gerlach C, Arens R, Janssen EM, Fitzgerald P, Schumacher TN, Medema JP, Green DR, Schoenberger SP
Blood 2012 Jan;119(3):798-804

One naive T cell, multiple fates in CD8+ T cell differentiation.
Gerlach C, van Heijst JW, Swart E, Sie D, Armstrong N, Kerkhoven RM, Zehn D, Bevan MJ, Schepers K, Schumacher TN
J Exp Med 2010 Jun;207(6):1235-46

Recruitment of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in response to infection is markedly efficient.
van Heijst JW, Gerlach C, Swart E, Sie D, Nunes-Alves C, Kerkhoven RM, Arens R, Correia-Neves M, Schepers K, Schumacher TN
Science 2009 Sep;325(5945):1265-9

Dissecting T cell lineage relationships by cellular barcoding.
Schepers K, Swart E, van Heijst JW, Gerlach C, Castrucci M, Sie D, Heimerikx M, Velds A, Kerkhoven RM, Arens R, Schumacher TN
J Exp Med 2008 Sep;205(10):2309-18

Allpublications with Carmen Gerlach

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