Advancing Immunotherapy with Big Data

Scientists in the Systems Immunology Division use complex systems theory, high throughput techniques as well as mathematical and computational tools to understand the functioning of the immune system in health and disease.

Our Lab

We live in the era of "Big Data". Huge amounts of information are becoming available with the explosion of genome and molecular profiling data. The challenge for the future is to extract meaningful biological information from mountains of data. Part of the solution will be to train bright, creative and passionate young biologists to use statistical tools and thinking in a rigorous fashion in their work. The Systems Immunology Division intends to help fill the gap between immunology and data science by training a new generation of scientists to help us apply Big Data approaches to explore mechanisms of immune disorders, and discover novel disease biomarkers and therapeutics.

The Challenge

This image is a network graph of a set of immune genes present within melanomas and associated with patient survival.The therapeutic goals for immunotherapies are to modulate a patient’s immune system to lessen the damage to healthy tissues in autoimmunity, or to increase destruction of tumors. Oftentimes, multiple immunotherapies with distinct immunologic mechanisms of action are used for a given condition, but with little understanding of the patient group best suited for any single therapy. In general, the limited effectiveness of immunotherapies, together with their high cost and undesirable side effects, have limited their usefulness. 

By better understanding immunologic mechanisms leading to beneficial effects, and by better selecting patients for treatment, the likelihood of successful immunotherapy, patient well-being, and cost-effectiveness may improve.

We're using molecular profiling technologies
to improve patient care by matching treatments
to the individual.

- Peter Linsley, PhD, BRI Systems Immunology Director

The Goal

To address these issues, we are using cutting edge Systems Immunology approaches to identify molecular signatures that predict response to immunotherapies. Systems Immunology represents the merger of systems biology, state-of-the-art human immunology and medical innovation.

The goal is to use high throughput molecular profiling technologies to assess the status of the immune system and to use this knowledge for the early detection of disease, and to predict complications and response to therapy. Systems Immunology thus aims to advance the goals of personalized medicine.

These images represent current projects within the laboratory.

Our Closely Linked Core Laboratories

Bioinformatics Department

Enabling discovery in autoimmunity through excellence in bioinformatics.

Data Management & Software Development Core

The Data and Knowledge Management Platform offers knowledge and data management services.

Genomics Core

The Genomics Core provides resources to BRI and external investigators for gene expression analysis, from sample processing through data generation.