Diversity within the T cell response, T cell memory – 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. 

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.

Karolinska Institutet Research Incubator (KIRI)

Our group is part of KIRI, a KI research incubator for innovative interdisciplinary research. 

Center for Cellular Cancer Therapy (C3T)

Our group is part of C3T, with Carmen Gerlach being one of the co-PI in this Swedish Research Council funded initiative for Centers of Excellence. With funding for recruiting excellent scientists and organizing networking activities, our goal is to create a vibrant multidisciplinary center that bridges expert knowledge in the biology of cytotoxic lymphocytes – immune cells that kill cancer cells – with that of good manufacturing practice compliant production and adoptive cell therapy in the clinic. Thereby, we will foster innovative new adoptive cell therapies focused on tumor-directed lymphocytes.


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.

Our research group is physically located at the Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM)


Selected publications