La Jolla Institute for Immunology

La Jolla Institute for Immunology is a non-profit research organization located in La Jolla, California. It is located in UC San Diego’s Research Park. The Institute researches immunology and immune system diseases. The Institute employs 220 M.D.s and Ph.D.s, including 23 faculty members and more than 450 employees. Dr. Mitchell Kronenberg has served as its president and scientific director since 2003. The institute was founded in 1988.[1]

La Jolla Institute for Immunology
2018 LJI rebrand color.png
MottoLife Without Disease
Founder(s)Makoto Nonaka
FocusImmunology Research
PresidentErica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D.
Adjunct faculty9
OwnerNon-profit, independent research institute
Address9420 Athena Circle
Coordinates32°52′38″N 117°13′12″W / 32.87721°N 117.21993°W / 32.87721; -117.21993Coordinates: 32°52′38″N 117°13′12″W / 32.87721°N 117.21993°W / 32.87721; -117.21993

La Jolla Institute for Immunology is a collaborative research organization that has forged many partnerships within the research community in San Diego, across the United States, and abroad. The institute's biomedical research facility covers 145,000 square feet inclusive of specialized research rooms suited for all aspects of molecular and cellular biology.


La Jolla Institute for Immunology was established in 1988[2] by a coalition that included Makoto Nonaka, the Institute's founding president, and Kimishige Ishizaka, the Institute's first scientific director.[3]

In 1989 the Institute began its laboratory operations with the arrival of two immunologists, Kimishige Ishizaka and Teruko Ishizaka, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ishizakas were co-discoverers in 1966 of the IgE (immunoglobulin E) protein, a molecule that induces allergic reactions in the human body.[3] In 1991, Kimishige Ishizaka was appointed president and scientific director of the institute and served in the role until his retirement in 1995.[3][4][5]

In 1995, Howard Grey joined La Jolla Institute of Immunology as president and scientific director. During the next several years, the Institute recruited prominent faculty members and formulated a program to accelerate the commercial development of LJI's research and drug discoveries. In 1996, the Institute moved from its initial location on Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla to a new purpose-built facility on Science Center Drive on the Torrey Pines Mesa.[3]

In 2003, Mitchell Kronenberg was appointed president and scientific director. That same year, the Immune Epitope Database (IEDB) was established and launched.[6] The database was designed and developed by the La Jolla Institute under a competitive contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH. In 2012, the NIH renewed their contract with the Institute for a further seven years.[3]

In 2006 the Institute opened a new research facility located in the new UC San Diego Science Research Park. In 2011, the Institute opened the RNAi Center for Identifying Genetic Triggers of Disease. The center's goal is to propel scientific efforts to pinpoint the specific genes involved in causing immune diseases, cancer, and other diseases using RNA interference (RNAi) technology.[3] That same year, the La Jolla Institute and Immunology became the fifth collaborating organization to join the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.[7]

In 2013 La Jolla Institute extended its partnership with the Japanese pharmaceutical company Kyowa Hakko Kirin. The six-year agreement continues a research alliance that began in 1988.[8] In 2015 the La Jolla Institute for Immunology announced its affiliation with the UC San Diego Health System.[9]

In 2018, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology changed its name to La Jolla Institute for Immunology to reflect its current focus.[10]

In 2020, scientists at the institute formed a Coronavirus Task Force[11] in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the institute became the home of the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC),[12] a research collaboration to test antibodies against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, led by structural virologist Erica Ollmann Saphire.

Scientific activitiesEdit

Scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology study the fundamental workings of the immune system. This includes studying the cells driving allergies and autoimmune diseases, as well as the cells that aim to fight cancers and infectious diseases. The institute is made up of three centers: the Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, the Center for Cancer Immunotherapy and the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research.

Scientists at LJI also lead research into genomic sequencing of immune cells and high-resolution imaging of virus/antibody interactions through cryo-electron microscopy.[13] The institute is home to the Immune Epitope Database (IEDB) and the DICE (Database of Immune Cell Expression, Expression of quantitative trait loci and Epigenomics).

Scientists at LJI, in collaboration with researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute, were the first to publish an analysis of potential SARS-CoV-2 epitopes vulnerable to the human immune system.[14] Since then, COVID-19 research at LJI has shed light on how both CD+8 and CD+4 T cells[15] respond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These findings can inform vaccine efforts.[16] Scientists at the institute have analyzed mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.[17] Additional COVID-19 projects at the institute include research to understand how the virus affects white blood cells called monocytes[18] and research into Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

Researchers at LJI have established several international research partnerships, including research collaborations in Nepal[19] to study flavivirus infection and collaborations in Sierra Leone to study hemorrhagic fever viruses.[20]


  1. ^ "About Us". La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  2. ^ "La Jolla institute is unlocking the mysteries of the immune system". Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "About Us: History". La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Retrieved 6 March 2019.   This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-02-27. Retrieved 2019-03-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Roberts, Sam (26 July 2018). "Dr. Kimishige Ishizaka, Who Found Allergy Link, Dies at 92". Retrieved 6 March 2019 – via
  6. ^ Salimi, Nima; Fleri, Ward; Peters, Bjoern; Sette, Alessandro (1 October 2012). "The immune epitope database: a historical retrospective of the first decade". Immunology. 137 (2): 117–123. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2567.2012.03611.x. PMC 3461392. PMID 22681406.
  7. ^ "About". Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Xconomy: La Jolla Institute Extends 25-Year Partnership with Japanese Pharma". 31 July 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  9. ^ Fikes, Bradley J. "UCSD scientists praise La Jolla Institute alliance". Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  10. ^ Jennewein, Chris (25 February 2019). "Top Ebola Researcher Leaving Scripps for La Jolla Institute for Immunology". Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  11. ^ "» Research Efforts Underway". Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  12. ^ Mento, Tarryn. "La Jolla Institute Leading Global Hunt For Antibodies To Coronavirus". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  13. ^ "BioCentury". BioCentury. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  14. ^ "A Sequence Homology and Bioinformatic Approach Can Predict Candidate Targets for Immune Responses to SARS-CoV-2".
  15. ^ "Selective and cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes in unexposed humans".
  16. ^ Lapid, Nancy (2020-05-18). "T cells play a role in fighting coronavirus; COVID-19 affects children differently". Reuters. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  17. ^ "Newer variant of COVID-19-causing virus dominates global infections: Virus with D614G change in Spike out-competes original strain, but may not make patients sicker". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  18. ^ "» Lynn Hedrick receives more than $500,000 for COVID-19 research". Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  19. ^ Community, Nature Research Microbiology (2019-04-19). "Building research infrastructure in resource-poor countries benefits all of us". Nature Research Microbiology Community. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  20. ^ "Partners". VHFC. Retrieved 2020-12-18.

External linksEdit