Institute of Immunology - University of Debrecen - Debrecen

The Medical and Health Science Centre of the University of Debrecen is the largest medical school in Hungary, both in patients’ number and in research capacity. The Department of Immunology was established in 2000 and celebrated its 10th Anniversary last year. The scientific and R&D programs of the Department have been supported by joint projects with other Departments of the University and by national and international grants and collaborations. The current research team of young scientists has been trained in the USA and in Sweden, and today presents a diverse expertise in molecular and cellular immunology including cellular signaling, molecular immunology of allergy, infectious diseases and autoimmunity. The research activity of the Department is focused on the biology of human dendritic cells with special interest in the collaboration of pattern recognition receptors and its impact on the outcome of immune responses. Another cellular target of our recent interest is stem cells that also express some of these receptors.

Research and Training Expertise

Our staff/investigators have a strong background in various fields of Immunology, including B- and T-, as well as stem- and dendritic cell biology. The examination of the differentiation and function of hematopoietic stem cells and dendritic cells stands in the focal point of the Departmnet's research advances.

The project supported by the Cross-Talk program is aimed to study the role of intracellular sensors such as retinoic acid induced gene (RIG)-like helicases (RLH) and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptors (NLR) in intestinal epithelial cells (EPC) and their role in collaboration of EPCs with dendritic cell (DC) subsets of the intestinal tract.

The University has been running an English medical program for 20 years, and with more than 1000 foreign students enrolled coming from all continents. The Department warrants an interdisciplinary approach and thinking in the training of both Hungarian and foreign students.  Talented student recruited to work on their diploma projects, have the opportunity to continue their training in the Doctoral School entitled Molecular, Cell- and Immune Biology.

Key persons involved

Eva Rajnavolgyi, Ph.D., D.Sc., Professor of Immunology is head of the Department of Immunology, and trained a large number of graduate student and young scientist. She has developed sounded advances on human DC differentiation, subsets and functions, authoring more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Linked to her basic research interest in stem- and dendritic cell biology, she also played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Cell Therapy Centre at the Medical and Health Science Centre (MHSC).

Arpad Lanyi, Ph.D., Associate Professor studies the role of the SLAM family of co-receptors in DCs and their role in T-cell function. He has experience in DC gene transfer, gene silencing and analysis of DC function. He is also interested in the role of a novel adaptor, and HOFI in DC and macrophage functions.


Attila Bacsi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, has experience in both in vitro and in vivo systems to study the effects of mitochondria and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) on the functional activity of plasmacytoid and conventional DC, and epithelial cells.


Peter Gogolak, Ph.D., Reseach Fellow is experienced in various applications of flow cytometry, cell sorting and functional characterization of immune cells. His research activity is focused to DC and T lymphocyte subsets.


Material Ressources

The laboratories are well equipped for state-of-art cellular and molecular immunology methods. Special equipments include flow cytometry and cell sorting, quantitative RT-PCR, and Taqman low density arrays and fluorescent microscopy. Expertise includes isolation and in vitro differentiation of stem- and progenitor cells and separation of DC subsets, high throughput determination of cytokine profiles at gene and protein levels.

The Medical & Health Science Centre runs a Genomics, Proteomics, Lipidomics Core facilities, and Cut laser microdissector and Imaging Core facility are also readily available for all departments.

There are dormitories, apartments and guest houses available for Ph.D. fellows and participants of scientific meetings.

3 Key publications

  • Szabo A, Gogolak P, Pazmandi K, Kis-Toth K, Riedl K, Wizel B, Lingnau K, Bacsi A, Rethi B, Rajnavolgyi E. The two-component adjuvant IC31® boosts type interferon production of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells via ligation of endosomal TLRs. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55264. Epub 2013 Feb 6. PubMed PMID: 23405128; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3566214.[Pubmed]
  • Szabo A, Bene K, Gogolák P, Réthi B, Lányi Á, Jankovich I, DezsÅ‘ B, Rajnavölgyi E. RLR-mediated production of interferon-β by a human dendritic cell subset and its role in virus-specific immunity. J Leukoc Biol. 2012 Jul;92(1):159-69. Epub 2012 Apr 18. PubMed PMID:22517920.[Pubmed]
  • Kis-Toth K, Hajdu P, Bacskai I, Szilagyi O, Papp F, Szanto A, Posta E, Gogolak P, Panyi G, Rajnavolgyi E. Voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7 maintains the membrane potential and regulates the activation and chemokine-induced migration of a monocyte-derived dendritic cell subset. J Immunol. 2011 Aug 1;187(3):1273-80. Epub 2011 Jun 29. PubMed PMID:21715690.[Pubmed]