About Us


Our Mission

Since its inception 30 years ago, La Jolla Institute has solely dedicated itself to understanding the far-reaching power of the immune system because we believe that no other biomedical discipline has greater implications for human health than immunology.

Pursuing Breakthroughs through Collaboration

From the moment the La Jolla Institute for Immunology started to take shape in La Jolla, California, it formed strong ties to major academic institutions and medical centers. While the Institute is proud of its independence as a stand-alone, non-profit research organization, its researchers have established important partnerships within the research community—in San Diego, across the U.S. and throughout the world. This collaborative and collegial work environment enables pioneering science that reaches across disciplines, inspires out-of-the-box thinking, sparks creativity and ultimately results in life-saving innovations.

Our Faculty

Handpicked for their pioneering spirit, creativity and collaborative approach, twenty-three world leaders in immunology head independent laboratories that work on understanding different aspects of the immune system using the latest biomedical research tools and technologies. Often, they come together to share expertise while pursuing novel medical advances. Led by President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Mitchell Kronenberg, the Institute is widely regarded as one of the best places in the world to work in academia and research papers by LJI scientists are among the most cited in immunology.

Our Facility

The La Jolla Institute for Immunology is located in UC San Diego's Science Research Park and is a world-class biomedical research institute covering 145,000 square feet. Our space provides an open laboratory setting that encourages LJI’s famously collaborative research environment. Specialized research rooms are suited for all aspects of molecular and cellular biology and feature larger lab areas that can support critical technologies and infrastructure. These technologies include highly sophisticated instrumentation for analysis at the atomic, genetic, protein and cellular levels—all of which are critical to advancing understanding of immune system disease. More about the UCSD Science Research Park


La Jolla Institute for Immunology was established in 1988 by a coalition of leaders from academia and industry, including Dr. Makoto Nonaka, the Institute's founding president, and Dr. Kimishige Ishizaka, the Institute's first scientific director. These leaders envisioned a unique and dynamic partnership between basic science and applied research, one that would lead to breakthroughs in the understanding of the immune system and improve human health through the development of treatments and cures for immune system disorders.

UCSD and the Scripps Research Institute

The La Jolla Institute was formed with strong ties to major academic and medical centers, including UC San Diego (UCSD) and Scripps Research. LJI's first board of directors included Dr. Gerard Burrow, past dean of UCSD's School of Medicine. He fostered a close relationship between LJI and UCSD Medical Center that provided for joint research activities, consultation and training in the fields of allergy and immunology. The informal relationship built on shared research interests and successful scientific collaboration was formalized in 2015, when LJI entered an official affiliation agreement with UC San Diego Health System and the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Peter Preuss, LJI's founding chairman of the board of directors, also has strong ties to UCSD and currently serves on the University of California's board of regents. Dr. Frank Dixon, who was recruited to Scripps Research in 1961 and became its first director, was a founding board member of LJI and served as chairman of the Institute's board of directors for 14 out of his 16 years on the board.

Work environment
When Drs. Kimi and Terry Ishizaka helped found the Institute in the 1980's, they created a standard of scientific excellence, as well as an environment where warmth and respect existed among colleagues. That legacy continues at LJI to this day, and it fosters a highly innovative and collaborative research environment in which the Institute takes great pride.

LJI was recently ranked among the top five molecular biology and genetics research institutions in the world. The Institute currently has over 350 employees, more than half who have doctoral (Ph.D. or M.D.) degrees.

President’s Message

Because the immune system lies at the heart of virtually every aspect of human health, we believe that scientific investigations of the immune system offer unparalleled opportunities to mitigate a staggering number of diseases. That’s why it is the focus of our research here at La Jolla Institute.

We all know someone, perhaps a close relative or friend whose health has suffered because of a disease related to the immune system, although in some cases the disease names may be unfamiliar, or the immune system as an underlying cause may not be widely appreciated. Allergies or asthma, type 1 diabetes, lupus, cancer, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, MS, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease are just a few examples of immune-related conditions that cause pain, suffering, debilitation, and even shortened lifetimes.

Some of these conditions are known as "autoimmune" diseases, in which an overzealous immune system overshoots its target, giving rise to illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. When the immune system fails to back down after its job is done, chronic inflammation takes hold. Like falling dominos, chronic inflammation’s trickle-down effect kicks off a series of harmful events that undermine our health. Allergies also are inappropriate immune responses to harmless materials in the environment, and their effects range from discomfort to life threatening acute reactions.

Yet the immune system of course does great good in protecting us from serious infections such as influenza, dengue and tuberculosis. Every day, our researchers work towards making discoveries that will lead to better preventions, therapies, and ultimately cures for immune system-related diseases, as well as working for ways to improve the vaccines that the world so desperately needs.

Most recently, we broadened our research to capitalize on the potential of the human genome by welcoming three new faculty members: Sonia Sharma, Vijayanand Pandurangan and Ferhat Ay. New technologies have enabled scientists to start unraveling the genetic factors that influence the immune system’s response to metastasizing tumors and invading of pathogens, as well as those factors that control the behavior of those invaders. A deeper understanding of the complex biological processes that govern the immune system’s function will ultimately reveal new avenues for the prevention and treatment of disease.

For over twenty years, our model has been to have independent laboratories working on different aspects of the immune system and collaborating with each other, as well as with other scientists in San Diego, nationally, and internationally. We believe that when you bring extraordinary scientific minds together under one roof, and provide them with the cutting edge tools, technologies needed for discovery, and support for their endeavors that few other institutions can provide, they are bound to make big strides toward Life without Disease.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know our scientists and the commitment of everyone at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. While the U.S. government funds the majority of biomedical research, philanthropy is essential to enabling high-risk studies that provide unexpected insights to proceed. Your support of our research is critical and most appreciated.


Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.
President & Chief Scientific Officer