Founder and head of the laboratory of "Natural killer cell and Innate Immunity" since 1995 and Director of the CIML from 2008 to 2017, Eric Vivier is now working at the interface between academic and private research in the continuum joining basic immunology and its applications in innovative immunotherapies. This articulation has been designed to lead the development of collaborations between fundamental, translational and clinical research, a feature of the Marseille Immunopole ecosystem (

Professor of Immunology at Aix Marseille University and Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille, Eric Vivier is now Chief Scientific Officer of Innate-Pharma ( and Head of Innate-Pharma Research Laboratories, which gathers four departments focused on target discovery, exploration of mechanism of action, translational research and drug-candidate development. Innate Pharma S.A. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to improving cancer treatment and clinical outcomes for patients through first-in-class therapeutic antibodies that harness the innate immunity. Innate Pharma specializes in immuno-oncology, a new therapeutic field that is changing cancer treatment by mobilizing the power of the body’s immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells.

The Vivier laboratory at Ciml and Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Marseille is dedicated to the molecular dissection of the biology of Innate Lymphoid Cells with a special interest on Natural Killer (NK) cells. The immune system is classically divided into innate and adaptive. Adaptive immunity can be defined by the presence of cells (i.e. T and B lymphocytes in higher vertebrates) that clonally express a colossal repertoire of receptors (i.e. the T cell and the B cell antigen receptors), the diversity of which results from somatic DNA rearrangements. Besides T and B cells, NK cells are lymphocytes of the innate immune system that can kill an array of target cells and secrete cytokines that participate to the shaping of the adaptive immune response and to tissue repair. A feature of NK cells resides in their capacity to distinguish stressed cells (such as tumor cells, microbe-infected cells, cells which have undergone physical or chemical injuries) from normal cells.

NK cells belong to a larger group of cells, the Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILCs) that are present as tissue-resident cells and participate to immunity, tissue development and remodelling. ILCs have been categorized into three main groups based on their similarity to T helper (TH) cell subsets and their expression of key transcription factors and production of cytokines. Group 1ILCs comprise NK cells and ILC1s. ILC1s are defined by their expression of T-bet and production of interferon-γ (IFNγ). ILC2s are defined by their expression of GATA3, BCL11B and GFI1 and by their production of IL4, IL5, IL13 and amphiregulin (AREG). ILC3s are defined by their expression of RORγt and by their production of IL17A, IL17F and IL22. IL7 is required for the development of ILC2s and ILC3s, whereas both IL7 and IL15 are required for the development of ILC1s.Each subset is also activated in response to stimulating cytokines: IL12 and IL18 for ILC1s; IL25, IL33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) for ILC2s; and IL23 and IL1β for ILC3s.

The biology of ILCs remains poorly understood and is the key focuses of the current activity of the lab.

The laboratory is organized in three groups, as follows.
- Frédéric Vély (MCU-PH, Aix Marseille University and Assistance -Publique - Hôpitaux de Marseille): human ILCs in immune disorders and cancer (rajouter un plan d’accès du TE4)
- Yann Kerdiles (CR, CNRS): Deciphering role of ILCs in mouse models of cancer
- Emilie Narni-Mancinelli (CR, INSERM): Exploration of ILC recognition andeffector functions

Funding and labels
  • ERC advanced grant (TILC)
  • Equipe labellisée ´La Ligue contre le Cancer’
  • MSDAvenir (MI-RIOT)
  • ANR (NKD ; NKp46)
  • Investissements d’Avenir (RHU PIONeeR)
  • Centre de Référence Deficits Immunitaires (AP-HM UF 6405)