Dirk Brenner’s work is focused on immunometabolism in immune cells in the context of inflammatory diseases and cancer.  He studied biochemistry at Bonn, Witten/Herdecke (Germany), Stanford, and Harvard (USA). His PhD is from the German Cancer Research Center under Peter H. Krammer followed by postdoctoral studies at Canada’s Ontario Cancer Institute with Tak W. Mak. Currently, he’s a group leader and Deputy Director of Infection & Immunity at Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), and Full Professor of Immunology & Genetics at the University of Luxembourg. He has received numerous fellowships and awards, is spokesperson for ‘Signal Transduction’ of the German Society of Immunology, chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of the VIB Center for Inflammation Research since 2023, and holds other advisory and editorial positions. In addition, he is the coordinator of the graduate school NextImmune2 in Luxembourg that focusses on Immunometabolism.

Research profile

The immune system is crucial for a health body function and protects us from severe infection. However, dysregulated immunity can cause inflammation, autoimmunity and cancer. Especially, the control of immune cell metabolism as emerged as a powerful way to regulate immunity and might initiate the next wave of immune-modulatory therapeutics. The Brenner laboratory investigates the metabolic regulation of the immune system and how this ensures a coordinated immune response and homeostasis. We seek to define molecular, metabolic and cellular processes of inflammation and integrate in vitro with in vivo studies to gain a comprehensive picture of inflammation and cancer. To address our research questions, we employ a wide variety of methods and approaches. These span from traditional molecular, cellular, and biochemical analyses to advanced techniques such as metabolic flux analysis, mass spectrometry, transcriptomics, epigenetics, genetic targeting, multi-color flow cytometry/sorting and diverse imaging methods. These techniques are combined with our work on sophisticated murine genetic in vivo disease models and human models. Although our lab isn’t centered around particular methods, we’ll employ any technique required to effectively tackle our research questions.

Main research questions:

  • Focus on immunometabolism of T cells and myeloid cells. Which metabolic events control cellular differentiation and function?
  • How do reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidants in immune cells (the cellular redox status) impact metabolism and function?
  • How is the metabolic regulation of the immune system ensuring a coordinated immune response and homeostasis in vivo?
  • Can metabolic reprogramming/manipulation of immune cells interfere with inflammatory disease, e.g. autoimmunity, infections and cancer?

Our lab has demonstrated the critical function of the antioxidant glutathione in T cell metabolism and function. We could show that metabolic reprogramming of T effector cells relies on the control of ROS by glutathione (Mak and Grusdat et al. 2017, Immunity).  This was further complemented by  a recent study shedding light on redox-regulation and metabolism in regulatory T cells, which was chosen for the cover by Cell Metabolism (Kurniawan et al. 2020). More recently, we have broadened our scope to include diverse subsets of immune cells, such as B cells and macrophages (Franchina et al. 2020, Nature Communications, He et al. 2022, Nature Metabolism). In addition, we work on various aspects of the immune-metabolic regulation of the immune system and these pivotal works have far-reaching implications for managing viral infections, ameliorating autoimmunity, and tackling cancer.

Positions and training

Since 2020: Full Professor of Immunology & Genetics, University of Luxembourg

Since 2016: Deputy Director of the Department of Infection & Immunity (Research & Strategy), Luxembourg Institute of Health

Since 2015: Group leader, Luxembourg Institute of Health; Adjunct Professor, ORCA, Southern University of Denmark


  • Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of VIB Center for Inflammation Research (2023), Belgium
  • Advisory Board Member of the Signal Transduction Society, Germany and the Graduate Program Integrated Immunology, Erlangen, Germany
  • Coordinator of the ‘Signal Transduction’ study group, German Society of Immunology
  • Coordinator of the Graduate Program NextImmune2 (Focus: Immunometabolism), Luxembourg
  • Founding member of the European Network for Immunometabolism (EFIS study group)
  • Editor/Editorial Board Member of Cell Death & Differentiation and Current Opinion in Biotechnology

Selected links