Human Immunomics Initiative

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

In collaboration with the Human Vaccines 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 Vaccines 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 Vaccines 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

vaccine illustration

Longitudinal Cohorts

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

patient safety illustration

Systems Biology

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

research computer illustration

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.

microscope illustration

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 Vaccines Project.

Photo of elderly person holding a baby's hand

Be part of our ambitious project to ensure healthier, longer lives for everyone.



Vaccine-induced protection in aging adults and pandemic response

A wide range of studies have demonstrated that human immunity can vary significantly across demographics. In particular age-associated declines of the immune system in older adults known as immunosenescence has become an increasingly important field of study. The…

COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Among Pregnant Women and Mothers of Young Children

Key findings from a global survey among 17,871 pregnant women and mothers across 16 countries Oct. 28 - Nov. 18, 2020 - Human Immunomics Initiative in collaboration with Pregistry COVID Collaborative On this page, we outline key findings…

Development and Deployment of COVID-19 Vaccines for those Most Vulnerable

Development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a global priority and the best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Remarkably, in less than 1 year, vaccines have been developed and shown to be efficacious and are already…

COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Among Pregnant Women and Mothers of Young Children

As multiple effective vaccines are developed, their distribution and overall acceptance by the public is crucial to stop the spread of COVID-19. Research conducted by Principal Investigator of the Human Immunomics Initiative, Dr. Julia Wu, in collaboration with Pregistry…

About the Human Vaccines Project

The Human Vaccines Project is a nonprofit public-private partnership with a mission to decode the human immune system and accelerate the development of vaccines and immunotherapies across major global diseases. The Project brings together leading academic research centers, industrial partners, nonprofits and governments to answer core questions about how the human immune system fights disease and pioneer a new era in human health. Find out more about the Human Vaccines Project here:

Human Vaccines Project logo
Scroll to Top