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Tumor Immunology and Tumor Immunotherapy Division

Prof. Dr. Niels Halama


Integrating broad aspects of immunological parameters for the successful development and optimization of therapeutic approaches in clinical translation









Why it matters

Cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized oncology. As a standard of care for some cancer entities, broad application in the treatment of patients with hematologic and solid tumors has become a reality. Identification of patients for a specific immunomodulatory approach, identification of successful combinatorial immunotherapy (or combination with chemotherapy, radiation or other intervention) are all important next steps to be developed. Utilizing new model systems and informative trial designs, the connection of basic research and translational efforts make this area highly diverse and challenging, but show the potential for a future of personalized therapy in oncology.


Lab focus

Cancer immunology has moved from scientific insight into practice changing standards in oncology. Robust scientific evidence has provided the entry to successful clinical translation. 

The division of Tumor Immunology and Tumor Immunotherapy is integrating broad aspects of immunological parameters (i.e. tissue-specific regulation, microbiome, metabolic regulation, genomic factors etc.) for the successful development and optimization of therapeutic approaches in clinical translation. 

An important part is to better understand the regulation of immune responses within tissues of solid tumors. Dedicated biomarker research for the identification of relevant immune cell phenotypes is also a decisive factor like understanding the cytokine regulatory network in specific disease situations. Deeper insights into the situation in human patients are provided by our fully-human preclinical Explant Model System, which is able to recapitulate the microenvironment of individual patients. 
In addition, new computational model systems, databases and machine learning (“artificial intelligence”) allow to further elaborate our understanding of the regulation of immune responses. Especially our explant model systems open new possibilities in development of new therapies. Newly developed therapies have been successfully translated into the clinic and combinatorial immunomodulation based on adaptive clinical trial protocols with biomarker driven selection programs are now being implemented.

Head of Division Tumor Immunology and Tumor Immunotherapy

Prof. Dr. Niels Halama

[since 2023] Head of Division, HI-TRON Mainz 
[2019- 2023] Head of the Department of Translational Immunotherapy, DKFZ
[2015 – 2019] Group leader, University of Heidelberg, NCT 
[2008- 2023] Scientist at NCT; TIGA; DKFZ
[2005 – 2006] Resident and Fellow, NCT 
[1999 - 2005] Student at University of Heidelberg 



[2012] Best Poster Award AACR (unter mehr als 10.000 Postern von den Gutachtern bestens bewertet)  
[2012] Forschungspreis der Dr. Feldbausch Stiftung 
[2009] Scientific Excellence Certificate & Best Poster Award, International Cancer Microenvironment Society (ICMS) 
[2007] Young Investigator Award, Medizinische Fakultät der Universität Heidelberg 
[1998] Stipendium der "Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes" 

[2012 - present] Deutsche Gesellschaft für Immunologie (DGfI) 
[2009-present] American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), USA (AACR-sponsored membership), member of the Cancer Immunology Working Group (CIMM) 
[2011 - heute] International Society for Translational Medicine 
[2009 - 2012] National Society for Histotechnology (NSH), USA 
[2007 - heut] International Cancer Microenvironment Society (ICMS) 
[2003 - 2006] Editor and Author, Section "Endocrinology” and “Neurology", for Medicle (

AG Halama 
Obere Zahlbacherstr. 63 
Building 911 
55131 Mainz


Lab News

05/2024: A new member joins the Halama lab: Florian Heininger
12/2023: Start of the new division at HI-TRON Mainz.