Human Immunomics Initiative 


In Collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Protecting Aging Populations

The world is experiencing the most dramatic increase in human longevity seen in history. By 2050, adults over age 65 will make up over one-sixth of the global population, while the number over age 80 will triple to 426 million. Yet this increasing longevity does not mean good health. From infectious diseases like COVID-19 to chronic conditions like cancers and Alzheimer’s, the globe is facing a staggering increase in disease burden over the coming decades.

Underlying this is the age-related decline of the immune system, which limits our ability to fight disease and undermines the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics. New technologies such as AI and machine learning are now enabling scientists for the first time to understand this decline in immune function. This has the potential to revolutionize our ability to develop effective drugs and vaccines for older adults.

The Human Immunomics Initiative (HII) was founded to drive forward research on this critical question. Joining together the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Human Vaccines Project, one of the leading human immunology research efforts, HII will seek to extend healthy life spans by determining the underlying rules of human immunity, with a focus on older adults. Together, we’re unlocking possibilities for lives that are not just longer, but also healthier.

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Operating at the forefront of 21st century public health inquiry, the HII will merge large-scale cohort studies with advances in systems biology, bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the rules of engagement for effective immunity in aging populations. HII will bring together a world-class group of interdisciplinary scientists, clinicians and public health specialists across epidemiology, immunology, biostatistics and AI, and will be closely integrated with the Human Vaccines Project’s global consortium.

The HII will focus on large-scale, transformative, mission-driven science and require the integration of creative academic inquiry with industrial rigor and scale in its organizational structure, management and decision making. It will provide a dynamic pathway for a new generation of scientists applying new technologies to achieve its mission.

Over the next five years, the HII will complete foundational human immunity studies on internationally recognized cohorts across three continents. By using frontier computing, causal inference methods, AI and machine learning, HII will define the rules of engagement of the human immune system in aging populations. The HII represents a coming together of imagination and execution, technology and vision. It will drive an unprecedented understanding of human immunity, opening discovery of powerful new vaccines, therapies and diagnostics against some of the world’s most devastating diseases from Alzheimer’s, cancers, to emerging pandemics.

The tools are in place, and with an unparalleled global consortium centered at the Harvard Chan School, achievement of HII objectives to identify predictive biomarkers of effective immunity in aging populations has the potential to transform the future of global health.

How we work

Longitudinal Cohorts Longitudinal Cohorts
HII partners with leading global longitudinal cohorts to understand immunity in older adults at a population scale.

Systems Biology Systems Biology
Within longitudinal cohorts, HII will comprehensively measure immune responses to vaccination to identify signatures of effective immunity.
Bioinformatics and AI Bioinformatics and AI
Using AI and statistical advances like casual inference, we will develop computational models of the human immune system to determine how to effectively protect older populations from disease.
Joining Forces Joining Forces
HII brings together Harvard Chan School experts in epidemiology, causal inference, immunology, and computational and systems biology with the resources, expertise, and global reach of the Human Vaccines Project.

Be part of our ambitious project to ensure healthier, longer lives for everyone.



Support

Executive Team

Wayne Koff
Ph.D.

President & CEO

Ted Schenkelberg
M.B.A., M.P.H.

Chief Operating Officer

Jaap Goudsmit
M.D., Ph.D.

Senior Vice President & CSO

Scientific Team

Galit Alter  
Ph.D.

PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

Sarah Fortune 
M.D.

JOHN LAPORTE GIVEN PROFESSOR OF IMMUNOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES CHAIR

Wouter Koudstaal
Ph.D.

Senior Scientific Consultant

Michael Mina 
M.D., Ph.D.

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR CENTER FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASE DYNAMICS

Julia Wu 
Sc.D., M.S.

RESEARCH SCIENTIST INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGY

About the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. Harvard has the ecosystem HII needs to succeed. No other institution can claim the same strengths and abilities to integrate tools that are transforming biomedicine. This initiative leverages the broader Harvard ecosystem of health science innovation, which serves as a natural home for this kind of interdisciplinary, cross-disease initiative. Learn more: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hii/

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