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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.



The MRC HIU encompasses a unique community of leading specialist research programmes whose diverse expertise combines to define how the human immune system functions to prevent infection and maintain organ health. We discover the mechanisms whereby the immune system is dysregulated in immune mediated inflammatory diseases.

Impaired immune function underpins many of the most prevalent human diseases. Susceptibility to infections and inflammatory disorders and response to vaccinations are variable between individuals for reasons that are unclear. Understanding immune variability is central to delivering precision medicine. Key to understanding immune variability is study in humans and evolution of genomic, genome engineering, epigenome editing, single cell and computational tools allows us to better define immune disease pathogenesis. At present new immunomodulatory drugs are introduced to the clinic with little molecular rationale for the target patient population or therapeutic combination. We lead in the discovery of immune pathogenesis to enable a more tailored approach.

To achieve our aims we have created a multidisciplinary grouping advancing the application of cutting edge technologies to harness the power of the immune system to improve human health.  This approach enables us to develop and implement novel technologies to better diagnose and treat immune mediated diseases. Our discovery programmes span gastrointestinal, skin, central nervous system, renal, chest, bone and infectious diseases and this shared know how enables us to identify common pathways of immune pathology in diverse organ systems and clinical conditions. In addition, the global threat of pathogen infections and antimicrobial resistance continues to impose major health problems both in the UK and particularly in developing countries. The HIU has partnered with researchers globally 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.

Our unique discovery work provides a platform to enable development of new therapies to modulate the immune system in a broad spectrum of diseases. We conduct experimental medicine and early phase trials to enable introduction of these new medicines or management approaches to the clinic.