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Zlatko Dembic, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor (immunology, cell-biology & microbiology)
1. Molecular Genetics Group
Department of Oral Biology (IOB),
Faculty of Dentistry,

University of Oslo
2. Visiting full professor (tenured) in medicine (biomedicine)
Medical Faculty
University of Rijeka,
Rijeka, Croatia

Postal address >
Institutt for oral biologi (IOB),
University of Oslo,
Sognsvannsveien 10,
PB-1052 Blindern
0316 Oslo,

Tel: + 47 228 40 330 /
Fax: + 47 228 40 302

As a scientist with a medical background, it's natural that my research interests are placed at the crossroads of medicine and biology. Since the earliest days of my lab career I was attracted to molecular and cellular immunology. The more I learned, the more my interest evolved toward studying ontogeny and phylogeny of the immune system. The reason was simple: I wished to understand its function, and that is still my wish. During the last teo decades of the past century I've worked on important issues in immunology at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biology (Tübingen, Germany), the Basel Institute for Immunology (Switzerland; CH) and the Hoffman-La Roche AG (Basel, CH). We were the first to report the identification of genes underlying T-cell specificity and recognition (mouse T-cell receptor, in '86). Likewise, we led the research on molecular cloning of human cytokine receptors important for the effector phase of immunity such as the interferon-gamma receptor (IFNGR1; in '88) and the tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 (TNFR2; in '90). This research resulted with several patents granted to ROCHE group and led to development of biological Enbrel (with TNF inhibitor activity), currently used as a therapy for six autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
In 1995, I moved to the Institute of Immunology at the University of Oslo, Norway. Since then I broadened the scope of my research by working on T-cell development, cancer immunobiology, immunogenetics and susceptibility to cancer and infectious diseases. All of this would not have been possible without a substantial contribution from my academic collaborators and colleagues in Norway and Croatia. Some of these studies led me to propose a model about the workings of the immune system called the "integrity" model in the mid-nineties. It stresses that immunity is not only a defense system, but also a selector of potential symbionts and commensals. So far, my publication list has over 80 scientific contributions. Ten percent were published in top scientific journals (Nature and Cell) with myself as a prominent author (in half of them). I tend to take these achievements as evidence of the great fun and joy that basic research in immunology has given me over the past years. They are also the source of an unending motivation to study further what remains unknown - a progressively smaller part of human body.

Here are some representative articles (check here for more):

  • Dembic Z, Bannwarth W, von Boehmer H and Steinmetz M:
    The gene encoding the T-cell receptor alpha-chain maps close to the Np-2 locus on mouse chromosome 14.
    Nature 314, 271-273 (1985).
  • Snodgrass HR, Dembic Z, Steinmetz M, and von Boehmer H:
    Expression of T-cell antigen receptor genes during fetal development in the thymus.
    Nature 315, 232-233 (1985).
  • Dembic Z, Haas W, Weiss S, McCubrey J, Kiefer H, von Boehmer H and Steinmetz M:
    Transfer of specificity by murine alpha- and beta-chain T-cell receptor genes.
    Nature 320, 232-238 (1986).
  • Dembic Z, Haas W, Zamoyska R, Parnes J, Steinmetz M and von Boehmer H:
    Transfection of the CD8 gene enhances T cell recognition.
    Nature 326, 510-511 (1987).
  • Uematsu Y, Ryser S, Dembic Z, Borgulya P, Krimpenfort P, Berns A, von Boehmer H, and Steinmetz M:
    In transgenic mice the introduced functional T-cell receptor beta gene prevents expression of endogenous beta genes
    Cell 52, 831-841 (1988).
  • Aguet M, Dembic Z and Merlin G:
    Molecular cloning and expression of human IFN-gamma receptor.
    Cell 55, 273-276 (1988).
  • Vidovic D, Roglic M, McKune K, Guerder S, Mackay C, and Dembic Z:
    Qa-1 restricted recognition of foreign antigen by a gamma/delta T cell hybridoma.
    Nature 340, 646-650 (1989).
  • Dembic Z, Loetscher H, Gubler U, Pan Y-CE, Lahm, H-W, Gentz R, Brockhaus M, and Lesslauer W:
    Two human TNF receptors have similar extracellular but distinct intracellular domain sequences.
    Cytokine 2, 231-237 (1990).
  • Russell DM, Dembic Z, Morahan G, Miller JFAP, Burki K, and Nemazee D:
    Peripheral deletion of self-reactive B cells.
    Nature 354, 308-311 (1991).
  • Dembic Z, Schenck K, and Bogen B:
    Dendritic cells purified from myeloma are primed with tumor-specific antigen (idiotype) and activate CD4+ T cells.
    Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97, 2697-2702 (2000).
  • Dembic Z, Røttingen J-A, Dellacasagrande J, Schenck K and Bogen B:
    Phagocytic dendritic cells purified from myelomas activate tumor-specific T cells at a single cell level. Blood 97, 2808-14 (2001).

  • Dembic Z:
    On Recognizing 'Shades-Of-Gray' (Self-Nonself Discrimination) or 'Colour' (Integrity Model) by the Immune System.
    Scand J Immunol 78:325-338 (2013).
  • Haabeth OA, Tveita AA, Fauskanger M, Schjesvold F, Lorvik KB, Hofgaard PO, Omholt H, Munthe LA, Dembic Z, Corthay A, and Bogen B:
    How Do CD4(+) T Cells Detect and Eliminate Tumor Cells That Either Lack or Express MHC Class II Molecules?
    Front Immunol 5:174 (2014).
  • Dembic Z:
    Pharmaco-therapeutic challenges in cancer biology with focus on the immune-system related risk factors.
    Curr Pharm Des 20(42):6652-9 (2014).
  • Gardar Sveinbjornsson, et al. ... Zlatko Dembic,... Ingileif Jonsdottir, & Kari Stefansson.
    HLA class II sequence variants influence tuberculosis risk in populations of European ancestry
    Nature Genetics 48, 318-322 (2016)

Some interesting sites and links:

  • The Molecular Genetics - Immunogenetics group
  • Scandinavian Journal of Immunology home and issues pages
  • Norwegian Society for Immunology
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