Naoto Hirano


The overarching goal of Dr. Hirano's research is to devise novel anti-tumour immunotherapeutic modalities that can cure cancer. His team has developed a series of human cell-based artificial antigen-presenting cells (APC) that can generate in vitro large numbers of HLA class I-restricted CD8 T-cells, class II-restricted CD4 T-cells, polyclonal CD3 T-cells, and CD1d-restricted iNKT cells. Using these artificial APC, he is conducting basic, translational, and clinical research in human T-cell immunology. HIs team is particularly interested in understanding how the interactions between T-cells and APC affect priming, expansion, persistence and differentiation of T-cells. They also seek to clarify how this leads to the subsequent generation and maintenance of T-cell memory.

Contact Information

Dr. Naoto Hirano

Telephone: 416-946-4501 ext. 2190


2011 - Clinician-Scientist I, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR).
2011 - Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute.
2011 - Associate Director for Research, Immune Therapy Program, Ontario Cancer Institute.
2011 - Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto.
2008 - 2011Assistant Professor of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School.
2001 - 2007Instructor in Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School.
1998 - 2000Research Fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School.

Research Output

  • Butler MO, Lee J-S, Ansén S, Neuberg D, Hodi FS, Murray AP, Dury L, Berezovskaya A, Mulligan RC, Nadler LM, Hirano N
    Ex vivo generation of long lived tumor associated-antigen specific CD8+ T cells
    • Clin Cancer Res. 2007;13(6):1857-67
  • Butler MO, Friedlander P, Milstein M, Metzler G, Mooney M, Berezovskaya A, Drury L, Imataki O, Tanaka M, Brennan L, Neuberg D, Stevenson K, Lawrence D, Hodi FS, Velazquez E, Jacklitz N, Russell S, Mihm M, Nadler LM, and Hirano N
    Establishment of anti-tumor memory in humans using in vitro educated CD8+ T cells
    • Sci Transl Med. 2011;3:80ra34
  • Tanaka M, Butler MO, Imataki O, Berezovskaya A, Nadler LM, Hirano N
    Expansion of IL-21 secreting HLA-DP4-restricted CD4+ T cells is sustainable without inducing exhaustion
    • Clin Cancer Res. 2011;17(16):5392-401
  • Butler MO, Imataki O, Yamashita Y, Tanaka M, Berezovskaya A, Metzler G, Milstein MI, Mooney MM, Murray AP, Mano H, Nadler LM, Hirano N
    Ex vivo expansion of human CD8+ T cells using autologous CD4+ T cell help
    • PLoS ONE. 2012;7(1): e30229
  • Imataki O, Ansén S, Tanaka M, Milstein MI, Butler MO, Berezovskaya A, Kuzushima K, Nadler LM, Hirano N
    IL-21 can supplement suboptimal Lck-independent MAPK activation in a STAT-3-dependent manner in human CD8+ T cells
    • J Immunol. 2012 (In press)