Our people

Professor Ian Hermans

BSc(Hons) (Otago), MSc(Distinc) (Otago), PhD(VUW)

Deputy Director of Research, Vaccine Therapy Programme Leader

Professor Ian Hermans oversees the Malaghan Institute's cancer vaccine clinical trials.

Ian studied dendritic cell-based vaccination with Professor Franca Ronchese at the Malaghan Institute between 1995 and 2001 before taking up a position at the Tumour Immunology Unit, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, at the University of Oxford, UK. In 2005 he returned to the Institute and was awarded a Sir Charles Hercus Research Fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to pursue his research into improving the potency and efficacy of vaccines by exploiting the activity of NKT cells.

His group has shown that NKT cells have the capacity to directly enhance the function of dendritic cells and therefore indirectly influence the quality of the whole immune response.

Research interests

The overall goal of my research is to design more effective vaccines against diseases such as cancer. It is known that white blood cells called T cells can kill tumour cells. Vaccines that induce the activity of T cells therefore hold considerable promise as new therapeutic agents.

We are looking at the specific immune cell populations involved in eliciting effective immune responses to vaccination, including the dendritic cells responsible for stimulating T cells, and other less well-known cells such as Natural Killer T (NKT) cells that contribute to the induced response. Working together with chemists, we are aiming to define compounds that can be incorporated into vaccines to ensure optimum, coordinated activity of all of the immune cells involved.

We are also exploring how other therapies for cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation and hyperthermia, affect the immune system, with a view to combining these therapies with vaccination.

We work closely with New Zealand leaders in the fields of immunology, medicinal chemistry and clinical oncology to test our vaccines in cancer patients.

Research group

Vaccine Therapy Programme
Research Officer: Nathaniel Dasyam
Vaccine Therapy Programme Leader: Professor Ian Hermans
Clinical Research Fellow: Dr Robert Weinkove
Clinical Trials Manager: Evelyn Bauer
Research Officer/GMP Production: Dr Brigitta Mester
Research Nurse: Tess Ostapowicz
Senior Research Officer: Kathryn Farrand
Ching-Wen Tang
Astrid Authier
PhD Student: Joshua Lange
Olivia Burn
Regan Fu
Kef Prasit
Research Fellow: Dr Taryn Osmond



Ataera H, Simkins HM, Hyde E, Yang J, Hermans IF, Petersen TR, Ronchese F (2013) The control of CD8+ T cell responses is preserved in perforin-deficient mice and released by depletion of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells. J Leukoc Biol, 94:825-33

Brooks CR, van Dalen CJ, Hermans IF, Douwes J (2013) Identifying leukocyte populations in fresh and cryopreserved sputum using flow cytometry. Cytometry B Clin Cytom, 84:104-13

Ferguson PM, Feindel KW, Slocombe A, MacKay M, Wignall T, Delahunt B, Tilley RD, Hermans IF (2013) Strongly magnetic iron nanoparticles improve the diagnosis of small tumours in the reticuloendothelial system by magnetic resonance imaging. PLoS One 8:e56572

Ferguson PM, Slocombe A, Tilley RD, Hermans IF (2013) Using magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate dendritic cell-based vaccination. PLoS One, 8:e65318

Hunn MK, Hermans IF (2013) Exploiting invariant NKT cells to promote T cell responses to cancer vaccines. Oncoimmunology, 2:e23789

Weinkove R, Brooks CR, Carter JM, Hermans IF, Ronchese F (2013) Functional invariant natural killer T cell and CD1d axis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: implications for immunotherapy. Haematologica, 98:376-84

Weinkove R, Brooks CR, Carter JM, Hermans IF, Ronchese F (2013) Efficient depletion of chronic lymphocytic leukemia B cells using serial rounds of immunomagnetic depletion. J Immunol Methods, 396:152-6


Cheong S, Ferguson P, Hermans IF, Jameson GNL, Prabakar S, Herman DAJ, Tilley RD (2012) Synthesis and stability of highly crystalline and stable iron/iron oxide core/shell nanoparticles for biomedical applications. ChemPlusChem, 77:135-40

Dangerfield EM, Cheng JM, Knight DA, Weinkove R, Dunbar PR, Hermans IF, Timmer MS, Stocker BL (2012) Species-specific activity of glycolipid ligands for invariant NKT cells. Chembiochem, 13:1349-56

Dickgreber N, Farrand KJ, van Panhuys N, Knight DA, McKee SJ, Chong ML, Miranda-Hernandez S, Baxter AG, Locksley RM, Le Gros G, Hermans IF (2012) Immature murine NKT cells pass through a stage of developmentally programmed innate IL-4 secretion. J Leukoc Biol, 92:999-1009

Hunn MK, Farrand KJ, Broadley KW, Weinkove R, Ferguson P, Miller RJ, Field CS, Petersen T, McConnell MJ, Hermans IF (2012) Vaccination with irradiated tumor cells pulsed wtih an adjuvant that stimulates NKT cells is an effective treatment for glioma. Clin Cancer Res, 18:6446-59

McKee SJ, Young VL, Clow F, Hayman CM, Baird MA, Hermans IF, Young SL, Ward VK (2012) Virus-like particles and ?-galactosylceramide form a self-adjuvanting composite particle that elicits anti-tumour immune responses. J Control Release, 159:338-45


Ainge GD, Martin WJ, Compton BJ, Hayman CM, Larsen DS, Yoon S-i, Wilson IA, Harper JL, Painter GF (2011) Synthesis and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) activity of phosphatidylinositol dimannoside analogues. J Med Chem, 54:7268-79

Broadley KW, Hunn MK, Farrand KJ, Price KM, Grasso C, Miller RJ, Hermans IF, McConnell MJ (2011) Side population is not necessary or sufficient for a cancer stem cell phenotype in glioblastoma multiforme. Stem Cells, 29:452-61

Cheng JM, Chee SH, Knight DA, Acha-Orbea H, Hermans IF, Timmer MS, Stocker BL (2011) An improved synthesis of danyslated alpha-galactosylceramide and its use as a fluorescent probe for the monitoring of glycolipid uptake by cells. Carbohydr Res, 346:914-26

Cheong S, Ferguson P, Feindel KW, Hermans IF, Callaghan PT, Meyer C, Slocombe A, Su CH, Cheng FY, Yeh CS, Ingham B, Toney MF, Tilley RD (2011) Simple synthesis and functionalization of iron nanoparticles for magnetic resonance imaging. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 50:4206-9

Girvan RC, Knight DA, O'Loughlin CJ, Hayman CM, Hermans IF, Webster GA (2011) MIS416, a non-toxic microparticle adjuvant derived from Propionibacterium acnes comprising immunostimulatory muramyl dipeptide and bacterial DNA promotes cross-priming and Th1 immunity. Vaccine, 29:545-57

Herman DA, Ferguson P, Cheong S, Hermans IF, Ruck BJ, Allan KM, Prabakar S, Spencer JL, Lendrum CD, Tilley RD (2011) Hot-injection synthesis of iron/iron oxide core/shell nanoparticles for T(2) contrast enhancement in magnetic resonance imaging. Chem Commun (Camb), 47:9221-3

Petersen TR, Sika-Paotonu D, Knight DA, Simkins HM, Hermans IF (2011) Exploiting the role of endogenous lymphoid-resident dendritic cells in the priming of NKT cells and CD8+ T cells to dendritic cell-based vaccines. PLoS One, 6:e17657

Simkins HM, Hyde E, Farrand KJ, Ong ML, Degli-Esposti MA, Hermans IF, Ronchese F (2011) Administration of alpha-galactosylceramide impairs the survival of dendritic cell subpopulations in vivo. J Leukoc Biol, 89:753-62


Brooks CR, Weinkove R, Hermans IF, van Dalen CJ, Douwes J (2010) Invariant natural killer T cells and asthma: immunologic reality or methodologic artifact? J Allergy Clin Immunol, 126:882-5

Petersen TR, Dickgreber N, Hermans IF (2010) Tumor antigen presentation by dendritic cells. Crit Rev Immunol, 30:345-86. Review.

Petersen TR, Sika-Paotonu D, Knight DA, Dickgreber N, Farrand KJ, Ronchese F, Hermans IF (2010) Potent anti-tumour responses to immunization with dendritic cells loaded with tumor tissue and an NKT cell ligand. Immunol Cell Biol, 88:596-604


Dickgreber N, Stoitzner P, Bai Y, Price KM, Farrand KJ, Manning K, Angel CE, Dunbar PR, Ronchese F, Fraser JD, Bäckström BT, Hermans IF (2009) Targeting antigen to MHC class II molecules promotes cross-presentation and enhances immunotherapy. J Immunol, 182:1260-9

Farrand KJ, Dickgreber N, Stoitzner P, Ronchese F, Petersen TR, Hermans IF (2009) Langerin+CD8alpha+ dendritic cells are critical for cross-priming and IL-12 production in response to systemic antigens. J Immunol, 183:7732-42

Tripp CH, Sparber F, Hermans IF, Romani N, Stoitzner P (2009) Glycolipids injected into the skin are presented to NKT cells in the draining lymph node independently of migratory skin dendritic cells. J Immunol, 182:7644-54


Andrew KA, Simkins HMA, Witzel S, Perret R, Hudson J, Hermans IF, Ritchie DS, Yang J, Ronchese F (2008) Dendritic cells treated with lipopolysaccharide up-regulate serine protease inhibitor 6 and remain sensitive to killing by cytotoxic T lymphocytes in vivo. J Immunol, 181:8356-62

Stoitzner P, Green LK, Jung JY, Price KM, Tripp CH, Malissen B, Kissenpfennig A, Hermans IF, Ronchese F (2008) Tumor immunotherapy by epicutaneous immunization requires Langerhans cells. J Immunol, 180:1991-8


Hermans IF, Silk JD, Gileadi U, Masri SH, Shepherd D, Farrand KJ, Salio M, Cerundolo V (2007) Dendritic cell function can be modulated through the cooperative actions of TLR ligands and invariant NKT cells. J Immunol, 178:2721-9

Matthews KE, Qin JS, Yang J, Hermans IF, Palmowski MJ, Cerundolo V, Ronchese F (2007) Increasing the survival of dendritic cells in vivo does not replace the requirement for CD4+ T cell help during primary CD8+ T cell responses. J Immunol, 179:5738-47


Lee A, Farrand KJ, Dickgreber N, Hayman CM, Jürs S, Hermans IF, Painter GF (2006) Novel synthesis of ?-galactosyl ceramides and confirmation of their powerful NKT cell agonist activity. Carbohydrate Research 341: 2785-2798

Matthews KE, Hermans IF, Roberts JM, Ching LM, Ronchese F (2006) 5,6-Dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid treatment of a non-immunogenic tumour does not synergize with active or passive CD8+ T-cell immunotherapy. Immunol Cell Biol, 84:383-9


Yang J, Huck SP, McHugh RS, Hermans IF, Ronchese F (2005) Perforin-dependent elimination of dendritic cells regulates the expansion of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 103:147-52


Silk JD, Hermans IF, Gileadi U, Chong TW, Shepherd D, Salio M, Mathew B, Schmidt RR, Lunt SJ, Williams KJ, Stratford IJ, Harris AL, Cerundolo V (2004) Utilizing the adjuvant properties of CD1d-dependent NK T cells in T cell-mediated immunotherapy. J Clin Invest, 114:1800-11

Ritchie DS, Yang J, Hermans IF, Ronchese F (2004) B-Lymphocytes activated by CD40 ligand induce an antigen-specific anti-tumour immune response by direct and indirect activation of CD8(+) T-cells. Scand J Immunol, 60:543-51

Salio M, Palmowski MJ, Atzberger A, Hermans IF, Cerundolo V (2004) CpG-matured murine plasmacytoid dendritic cells are capable of in vivo priming of functional CD8 cell responses to endogenous but not exogenous antigens. J Exp Med, 199:567-79

Hermans IF, Silk JD, Yang J, Palmowski MJ, Gileadi U, McCarthy C, Salio M, Ronchese F, Cerundolo V (2004) The VITAL assay: a versatile fluorometric technique for assessing CTL- and NKT-mediated cytotoxicity against multiple targets in vitro and in vivo. J Immunol Methods, 285:25-40

Cerundolo V, Hermans IF, Salio M (2004) Dendritic cells: a journey from laboratory to clinic. Nat Immunol, 5:7-10

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