The MRC Human Immunology Unit (MRC HIU) was founded in 1998 by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and represents one of the central pillars of basic and translational immunology in Oxford, but also throughout the UK and worldwide.
© Martin Phelps
The MRC HIU encompasses a broad range of research programmes aimed at furthering our understanding of how the human immune system functions from early life to old age, as knowledge of the way in which the immune system responds to pathogens and cancer is critical in the development of techniques to prevent and treat infections, autoimmune diseases and cancer. Over the last two decades, significant progress has been made in human immune research, with significant advances in the treatment of disease and the providing of new insights into basic biology. However, numerous gaps in knowledge remain to be filled in order to achieve effective immunotherapeutic agents, particularly due to the fact that a large proportion of cancer and autoimmune patients fail to respond to immunological therapies. In addition, the global threat of pathogen infections continues to impose major health problems both in the UK and particularly in developing countries.
By creating a centre of excellence in human immunology research focused on the development of experimental medicine programmes, the MRC HIU builds on the strategic aim of the MRC to prioritise research that is most likely to deliver improved health outcomes. Research within the MRC HIU is focused on improving healthcare through collaboration with both the NHS and industry partners, in addition to research councils and charities, including the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. The HIU has partnered with researchers in Africa and in China to target infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and influenza infection, and is in a position to implement a rapid response to new and emerging infections that may be manifested in the UK or throughout the world.