Research group Carmen Gerlach

Understanding T cell responses.
The Gerlach lab studies immune responses mediated by T cells, in particular CD8 T cells.

Our research

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. We hope that this knowledge will contribute to improved vaccines and immunotherapies.

Please also visit the Gerlach lab website (

Research lines

  1. Universal patterns of T cell differentiation across species
  2. Clonal aspects of CD8 T cell responses
  3. Molecular mechanisms underlying the heterogeneity within T cell responses
  4. 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.

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

Team members

Anthonie Zwijnenburg

Natalia Ramirez Comet

Iman Shryki

Jyoti Pokharel

Wenning Zheng

Shaima Al-Khabouri

Recent key publications

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

Exploiting Allelic Variation in CD8+ T Cells.
Zwijnenburg AJ, Gerlach C
Immunity 2019 05;50(5):1119-1121

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

Carmen Gerlach.

Trends Immunol 2018 03;39(3):167-170

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, et al
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, et al
Science 2013 May;340(6132):635-9

The descent of memory T cells.
Gerlach C, van Heijst JW, Schumacher TN
Ann N Y Acad Sci 2011 Jan;1217():139-53

One naive T cell, multiple fates in CD8+ T cell differentiation.
Gerlach C, van Heijst JW, Swart E, Sie D, Armstrong N, Kerkhoven RM, et al
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, et al
Science 2009 Sep;325(5945):1265-9