Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Hans-Georg Rammensee
Full Professor and Head of the Department of Immunology
Institute for Cell Biology, University of Tübingen
Auf der Morgenstelle 15
D-72076 Tübingen, Germany
I started to work on immunology in 1979, with the specific aim of using tumor immunology to fight against cancer. My first research projects were on minor histocompatibility antigens, which revealed some similarity to tumor antigens: weak immunogens, MHC-restricted, nature completely unknown at that time. After contributing to the areas of genetics and immune regulation (“veto cells”), I showed that central tolerance to such antigens is MHC restricted. Later, I identified the first minor H antigen .
After setting up my own research group, we
- showed that minor H antigens are peptides presented by MHC ;
- identified the first naturally processed viral T cell epitopes,
- for the first time eluted and identified peptides directly from MHC, and discovered the nature of MHC peptide specificity (“motifs”),
- showed that MHC itself contributes to processing of peptides ,
- demonstrated, for the first time, induction of T cell anergy in vivo,
- used a covalent peptide/TLR-ligand compound for efficient immunization.
Building on the MHC/peptide work, we were the first group to exactly predict T cell epitopes. We then systematically developed bioinformatic tools for this purpose, e.g., our database SYFPEITHI, which is the gold standard in this field.
In recent years, we have combined basic research on MHC biology with translational research; thus, I could build upon 20 years of research by finally bringing tumor immunology into clinical practice, together with expert clinicians. This work has led already to three spin-off companies (Immatics, CureVac and Synimmune), both in clinical phase I and phase II trials.
I now intend to use the next 10 years to bring truly individualized cancer immunotherapy -which has so far not proved particularly attractive to large-scale pharmaceutical companies- into the clinic, taking advantage of the latest technological advances in genome sequencing and peptidome analysis.
Joint Research Projects
2013 - 2017
Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 685 “Immunotherapy: Molecular basis and clinical application”, DFG
2014 - 2019
ERC Advanced Grant “Mutaediting - Mutation-driven immunoediting of human cancer”
2015 - 2018
Transcan 3 Verbund „HLA-Ligandomanalyse von ATRT-Tumorgewebeproben“, BMBF
2017 - 2020
Else-Kröner-Fresenius-Forschungskolleg “Therapieresistenz solider Tumore“