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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders: Research and Innovations

Leaders in Immunological Research and Care

The University of Chicago Medicine has long been at the forefront of immunological research and care. Immunology research milestones include:

  • In the 1940s, UChicago researcher Leon Jacobson, MD, performed the first bone marrow transplant in a laboratory model.
  • In the 1950s, UChicago researcher Donald Rowley, MD, demonstrated the critical role of the spleen in antibody production.
  • In the 1980s, the University of Chicago began the first pediatric bone marrow stem cell transplant program in the Chicago area.
  • In the 1990s, the University of Chicago established the Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research to support a multidisciplinary approach for studying autoimmunity and the immune system as well as basic, translational and clinical research.

Today, the University of Chicago has the largest National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded immunology research program in the region. Our scientists are working to:

  • Study how certain cells (T- and B-lymphocytes, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, and neutrophils) protect us against aggressive bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
  • Understand how specific genetic defects induce immunodeficiency in children. These studies not only facilitate diagnosis but also have the potential to lead to new therapies for these potentially fatal conditions.
  • Examine new immunotherapies and their potential for treating primary immunodeficiencies.
  • Create new methods for recognizing immunodeficiencies in children and adults.
  • Identify how subtle signs of infection can be used to identify patients with immune deficiencies.
  • Explore new approaches to transplant for primary immunodeficiency. For example cord blood and haploidentical (half-match) parental transplants have recently become available, providing treatment options to all children who require a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.


These and other basic and clinical research initiatives inform and support the care we give to children with primary immunodeficiency disorders.