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Established in 1973 as one of the first branches of the Ludwig Institute, and renewed in 2015, Lausanne is one of Ludwig’s globally distributed and thematically complementary branches.
Since the branch's inception, its central research focus has been fundamental and human cancer immunology, with emphasis on cell-mediated immunity and immunotherapy. Cytolytic T lymphocytes were discovered and characterized in the Lausanne branch. Its scientists contributed also key insights to the understanding of T cell thymic development and lineage commitment; antigen recognition by T cells; antigen processing and presentation; the nature of superantigens; the structure of T cell repertoires; and the dynamics of T cell responses to tumor-specific antigens in mouse and humans. The branch developed novel therapeutic vaccines based on tumor antigens, and was a world leader in the development of immune assessment assays.
To date, Ludwig Lausanne branch researchers have published over 2,300 papers in fundamental and translational immunology.
The mission of the Ludwig Lausanne branch is to reveal the key cellular protagonists in the tumor microenvironment, decipher how the immune system interacts with tumors, and unveil how this can be dysregulated. Inspired by these critical insights, the Branch seeks to develop impactful therapies for cancer patients.
In 2015, the Ludwig Lausanne branch was conceived with a renewed mission - to fully align and integrate scientific discovery with clinical impact.
To this end, under the leadership of its director, Pr George Coukos, it developed an innovative research structure, the “Human Integrated Tumor Immunology Discovery Engine” (Hi-TIDe). The Hi-TIDe's mission is to understand how T cells recognize tumors and how tumors render them dysfunctional to then leverage such knowledge to create adoptive T cell therapies through systems engineering. These approaches could profoundly improve the efficacy of current T cell therapies for numerous types of cancers.
The Hi-TIDE is part of the Center of excellence in cell therapy, a partnership between the CHUV, UNIL and the Ludwig Institute that provides the environment to transfer novel technologies to patients.
Complementing its highly translational programs, the Branch is home to a number of world class principal investigator Ludwig Members focused on answering key questions relating to the tumor microenvironment. These include the potential of modulating immunometabolism to enhance tumor immunotherapy, the functional interrogation of tumor stromal and myeloid cell dynamics in resisting or facilitating tumor immunity, and the critical parameters of the metastatic tumor microenvironment. The combined axes of this research are set to improve our understanding of cancer and identify new immune therapeutic approaches that are more effective and applicable to a greater number of patients.
The Ludwig Lausanne branch includes several Ludwig Adjunct scientists at UNIL, CHUV and EPFL, whose research is driven by the same scientific discovery and translational goals as the core branch. Their seamless integration maximizes shared opportunities for scientific impact and clinical translation in Lausanne.