La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) is a unique place. We are a research institute, which means our only mission is to make important discoveries. We are focused on immunology because the immune system is uniquely positioned to influence the course of diverse diseases. Each LJI laboratory is dedicated to shining light on an important aspect of the immune system.

Your immune system is amazingly intricate and ever-adapting. Some immune cells are poised to fight off microbes that cause diseases, including deadly viruses and bacteria. Other cells are ready to kill cancer cells based on the mutations they have. Scientists at LJI are driving the development of new techniques and technologies to study these types of protective immune responses. Their work guides vaccine design and the development of life-saving cancer immunotherapies.

The immune system can also turn and start attacking the body’s own tissues. LJI scientists lead groundbreaking research into the root causes of autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. Researchers at LJI have also shown that the onset of Parkinson’s disease can be linked to autoimmunity, opening the door to new studies into neurodegenerative diseases.

This is very personal work for myself and every scientist at the Institute. We all have loved ones affected by diseases in which the immune system plays an important role—this is unavoidable. Therefore, it is an honor to bring new findings to light.

While the U.S. government funds most LJI research through a highly competitive grant process, our dedicated donor community fuels major advances in fighting disease. We could not take on high-risk studies without philanthropic support. In fact, recent gifts helped LJI respond quickly to the unthinkable: the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As SARS-CoV-2 spread, we were fortunate to have the experts, equipment and community support in place to quickly take on COVID-19 research. Within months, LJI scientists had published the first studies of how key immune cells respond to the virus. This work is guiding COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic efforts around the globe, and we are in a strong position to continue this fight and to take on future emerging infectious diseases.

Our mission is Life Without Disease®. This means life without type I diabetes, life without tumors—life without pandemics. We can work together to make this a reality.


Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.

President & Chief Scientific Officer