Welcome From the Director

Welcome From the Director

The Marc and Jennifer Lipschultz Precision Immunology Institute (PrIISM) is built on the principle of bringing highly talented and multidisciplinary scientists and physicians together with the latest technologies to understand how our immune systems shape our well-being.

In this Specialty Report, we introduce how our programs are using that principle to benefit patients with cancer and other diseases driven by a faulty immune system.

We will discuss two translational initiatives, TARGET and INTERACT, which are breaking medical siloes to bring effective immunotherapies to a wider range of patients by facilitating knowledge and data sharing across disease specialties.

This report highlights recent work from PrIISM member Filip Swirski, PhD, Director of the new Cardiovascular Research Institute, on how acute stress impacts the immune system and lowers our resistance to viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and influenza, which continue to pose major public health problems.

The intricate connections between the nervous and immune systems are the focus of the new field of neuroimmunology, and we were thrilled to welcome Brian Kim, MD, as the Sol and Clara Kest Professor of Dermatology and Director of the new Mark Lebwohl Center for Neuroinflammation and Sensation, in January 2022. Dr. Kim was jointly recruited to Mount Sinai by PrIISM, The Friedman Brain Institute, and the Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology, and he is already forming productive new collaborations with other researchers, including work examining how dysfunctional signaling by Janus kinases (JAKs) is a common immune mechanism driving many distinct diseases.

Another common driver of immune dysfunction in disease is disruption of the gut microbiome. Our Microbiome Translational Center is about to start clinical trials of live biotherapeutics to treat inflammatory bowel disease and C. difficile infection. Stephanie Tankou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, is exploring how different microbes can control neuroinflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS) and is embarking on a pilot study to test intervention with an antibiotic in MS patients.

PrIISM continues to focus strongly on devising innovative new approaches to engage the immune system in the battle against cancer. In this report, we present our recent study of a new type of CAR-T cell therapy that works by killing the macrophages in tumors that shield cancer cells from immune attack. The project is a joint venture between my own research group and that of Brian Brown, PhD, Director of the Icahn Genomics Institute and Associate Director of PrIISM.

The field has grown to appreciate that shared immune mechanisms can cause what at first appear to be very different diseases. But the immune system also provides physicians and scientists with myriad adaptable tools to use to target these mechanisms, from therapeutic antibodies to mRNA approaches and engineered cells. PrIISM will continue to approach biomedical science from these many different angles to improve outcomes for patients.


Miriam Merad, MD, PhD

Miriam Merad, MD, PhD

Mount Sinai Professor in Cancer Immunology; Director of PrIISM