Unlocking the immune system for better vaccines — and better health.

In collaboration with the Human Immunome Project

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 Immunome 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.

Photo of Michelle Williams

“The way we fight disease is broken—we launch into disease-specific battles without understanding the rules that affect our chances of success. The Human Immunome Project set out to change that by decoding the human immunome. We are excited to bring the intellectual and technological resources of the Harvard Chan School and Harvard University to further those efforts through the creation of the Human Immunomics Initiative.”

Michelle A. Williams
Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

How we work

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Longitudinal Cohorts

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

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Systems Biology

Within longitudinal cohorts, HII will comprehensively measure immune responses to vaccination to identify signatures of effective immunity.

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Bioinformatics and AI

Using AI and statistical advances like causal inference, we will develop computational models of the human immune system to determine how to effectively protect older populations from disease.

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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 Immunome Project.