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Hermans Laboratory

The goal of the Hermans Laboratory is to design more effective immunotherapies and vaccines to prevent and treat cancer.

The Hermans Laboratory has spent several years developing novel compounds that directly stimulate our cancer-killing immune cells. It is known that T-cells, a type of immune cell, can kill cancerous cells. Therapies that induce the activity of T-cells therefore hold considerable promise as new therapeutic agents and can act similar to a vaccines.

The team is investigating 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, called innate like T cells – which includes NKT cells - that contribute to the induced response. Working together with chemists, they aim to define compounds that can be incorporated into vaccines to ensure optimum, coordinated activity of all of the immune cells involved.

The team is also closely studying the behaviour of immune cells in and around tumours, as well as intratumoural microenvironments, with the aim of uncovering novel mechanisms of delivering therapeutics directly to these sites for more effective treatments.

The Hermans Laboratory works closely with New Zealand leaders in the fields of immunology, medicinal chemistry and clinical oncology to test their vaccines in cancer patients.

Dr Olivia Burn

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Regan Fu

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Jordan Minnell

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Senior Research Officers: Kathryn Farrand, Ching Wen Tang

Research Officers: John Mamum, Gordon Zhao

PhD Students: Hannah Boswell, Kaitlin Buick, Jarem Wylie

Research areas
Research projects
  • Development of mRNA vaccines for cancer and infectious disease
  • Improving CAR T cell therapy for treatment of solid tumours
  • Improving cancer immunotherapy with drugs that are activated in the low-oxygen environment of a tumour

Featured publications

Holz LE, Chua YC, de Menezes MN, Anderson RJ, Draper SL, Compton BJ, Chan STS, Mathew J, Li J, Kedzierski L, Wang Z, Beattie L, Enders MH, Ghilas S, May R, Steiner TM, Lange J, Fernandez-Ruiz D, Valencia-Hernandez AM, Osmond TL, Farrand KJ, Seneviratna R, Almeida CF, Tullett KM, Bertolino P, Bowen DG, Cozijnsen A, Mollard V, McFadden GI, Caminschi I, Lahoud MH, Kedzierska K, Turner SJ, Godfrey DI, Hermans IF, Painter GF, Heath WR (2020). Glycolipid-peptide vaccination induces liver-resident memory CD8+ T cells that protect against rodent malaria. Sci Immunol. 5(48):eaaz8035

Anderson RJ, Compton BJ, Tang C, Authier-Hall A, Hayman CM, Swinerd GW, Kowalczyk R, Harris P, Brimble MA, Larsen DS, Gasser O, Weinkove R, Hermans IF, Painter GF.  (2015). NKT Cell-Dependent Glycolipid-Peptide Vaccines with Potent Anti-tumour Activity.  Chem. Sci.

Anderson RJ, Tang C, Daniels NJ, Compton BJ, Hayman CM, Johnston KA, Knight DA, Gasser O, Poyntz HC, Ferguson PM, Larsen DS, Ronchese F, Painter GF, Hermans, IF. (2014).  A self-adjuvanting vaccine induces cytotoxic T lymphocytes that suppress allergy. Nat Chem Biol