de la Rosa lab

de la Rosa Lab

Cancer & Immunology / Immune Mechanisms and Human Antibodies


Our lab has a strong focus on human immunology, which stems from the fundamental need to deeply understand the human immune system to combat diseases. Particularly, we study B cells, the type of immune cells that produce antibodies.

An enormous diversity of antibodies protects us from various infectious diseases by binding and neutralizing pathogens. During an infection, B cells undergo maturation processes including the acquisition of beneficial mutations followed by subsequent selection to increase the potency of antibodies. However, for some diseases the body’s immune system fails to induce natural protection. We study antibody maturation to understand how diversity is generated and which determinants are important to elicit potent protection. 

Using high-throughput cellular and molecular screening methodologies, in vitro cultivation methods, and functional studies, our laboratory seeks out novel applications for B cells and antibodies to preserve human health.


From left to right: Dunja Vukcevic (Student assistant), Lisa Spatt (TA), Cathrin Gerhard (TA), Ata Ul Wakeel Ahmad (PhD), Mikhail Lebedin (PhD), Clara Vazquez Garcia (PhD), Emre Mert Ipekoglu (PhD), Casper Silvis (PhD), Iris Apostel-Krause (Staff), Kathrin de la Rosa (Group leader)



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Projects and grants


CoVipa – Helmholtz Network Fund

CoViPa is a joint research initiative of 7 Helmholtz institutes and 3 university partners. Together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR, Wessling) and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ, Heidelberg) we aim develop targeted immunomodulatory strategies by means of AI-based robotic platforms.



Johanna Quandt Fellowship of the Stiftung Charité

The goal of this program is to develop and study innovative approaches for two challenges of translational immunology: cellular vaccines for improved humoral immunity and the use antibodies to modulate T cell responses.



Starting grant of the European research council (ERC)

This research project aims to develop novel strategies for B cell engineering exploiting natural DNA-breaks to generate antibodies that surpass common reactivity profiles.



Emmy Noether Project of the german research foundation

The project aims to study a new layer of antibody diversity that is generated by integration of large DNA inserts in the antibody heavy chain locus.





Christoph Ratswohl 

PhD student
2018 – 2022

PhD thesis: “Towards novel active and passive vaccine design strategies that target the interaction with viral entry receptors”

Subsequent position: Postdoc, Immunological synapse formation of T cells and dendritic cells, Biotechnologie Institut Thurgau, Switzerland


Mateja Zvipelj

Erasmus student
March 2023
July 2023

Project title: Identification of splice enhancer sequences to support exon integration in engineered primary human B cells


Miriam Herfort 

BSc Student
February 2023
May 2023



Dunja Vukcevic

MSc Student
September 2022 – March 2023

Master thesis on “Profiling DNA Repair in the switch region to predict the efficiency of DNA-repair in individuals”



Irina Yakuteno

PhD student
August 2021 – November 2021

Subsequent position: self-employed science journalist and blogger



Carlotta Caramel

Erasmus student
March 2021 – September 2021

Subsequent position: PhD student, department of pediatric oncology and hematology, Charité Berlin, Germany



Anthony Marchand

MSc student
September 2019 – March 2020

Subsequent position: PhD Student, protein engineering, EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne), Switzerland



Špela Knez

Erasmus student
April 2019 – August 2019

Subsequent position: PhD student, biotechnology and immunology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia



Svetlana Khorkova

MSc student
September 2018 – April 2019

Master thesis on "A method to detect transchromosomal insertions in immunoglobulim transcripts." 

Subsequent position: PhD students program IMPRS at the Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology and Epigenetics Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany