Role of T cells in human host defense – Johan Sandberg group

Innate and adaptive immune mechanisms work together to contain viral and bacterial infections. We investigate basic aspects of cell-mediated immunity as well as the immunopathogenesis of such infections. We do this with a basis in our solid understanding of fundamental immunology that we apply towards patient-based research and develop into translational approaches.

The group is part of the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM).

About our research

The majority of T lymphocytes carry diverse T cell receptors (TCRs) that display classical MHC-restriction. However, the T cell compartment also includes unconventional T cell subsets that recognize antigens presented by non-classical MHC-like molecules. Several of these subsets are evolutionarily conserved, display innate-like characteristics, and play important roles in immune control of pathogens.

The group is particularly interested in the complementary roles that adaptive CD8 T cells, and the unconventional innate-like T cells such as the invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells and mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells play in host defense.


T cells, NK cells, NKT cells, MAIT cells, CD1d, MR1

Open positions

We always want to get in touch with talented potential co-workers. If you are interested in doing research within our group, as a degree project or as a researcher, please contact the group leader Johan Sandberg.

Projects and collaborations

The group is involved in a multitude of projects together with many collaborators, as exemplified by the list of selected publications. Project objectives include investigations of:

  • The role of MAIT cells in human immune control of bacterial infections including antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Adaptive and innate T cell-mediated immunity in response to acute viral infection, including SARS-CoV-2 and HIV-1 infections.
  • Adaptive and innate T cell-mediated immunity in response to viral and bacterial vaccines.
  • Role of tissue-resident T cell populations in immunity and tissue homeostasis.
  • Viral (HIV-1, HSV) and bacterial (S. aureus) immune evasion mechanisms.
  • Mechanisms of viral immunopathogenesis.
  • Application of unconventional T cells in immunotherapy.

Collaboration at CIM

The group also collaborates with Caroline Boulouis, postdoctoral researcher in Jakob Michaelsson's group at the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM).

Research support

  • The Swedish Research Council
  • The Swedish Cancer Society
  • The Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation
  • Center for Innovative Medicine
  • SciLife Lab/Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
  • Karolinska Institutet


Selected publications

Staff and contact

Group leader

All members of the group