Systems Immunology

To see the immune system with the eyes of mathematics – that is the goal of the department Systems Immunology. Mathematical models help to faster and better understand diseases that are associated with immune functions. Read here how scientists use mathematics to investigate chronic inflammatory diseases, the regulation of adaptive immune responses, diabetes, cancer irradiation and aging.

    Dr Haralampos Hatzikirou

    Project leader

    +49 531 391-55214


    Curriculum Vitae

    It was a sunny morning of 1978 when a tremendous thing struck Earth... me! This little guy (hmm...not really) was born in Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece. Soon after, we changed a couple of cities and I landed at my second hometown, Serres, where I spent my school years. Finishing the school in 1996, Thessaloniki was ready to accept me for my university studies in the Mathematics department of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. In 2001, after five incredible years, I left Greece to enroll in the program of Industrial Mathematics (Technomathematik) in TU Kaiserslautern. I stayed for 1,5 years, and the road brought to the amazing capital of Germany, Berlin. There I spent almost one year doing my master thesis at the ITB under the supervision Prof. H. Herzel.  Finally, in 2004, I received a Marie Curie scholarship to accomplish my PhD thesis in the IMC group of A. Deutsch, at TU Dresden. In 2009, Europe was fed up with me and I found myself playing the cowboy in Texas, with my ranch at UT at Houston. Next year (2010), in an attempt to find Heisenberg (from Breaking Bad), I found myself in Albuquerque at University of New Mexico. While searching I ended up again in Germany (2011), and in particular in Brunswick, at the Helmholtz Institute for Infection Research (HZI) collaborating with M. Meyer-Hermann. Although I was trying to keep myself away, the sirens of Dresden called me back and from now on (2013), I will be a group leader in the new excellence cluster of cfAED. Finally, I am back in HZI.



    My research is focused on the understanding of cell decision-making and its impact on multicellular systems. Decisions of interacting cells allow for the emergence of higher order organizational structures, such as immune responses, bacteria colonies or tumors. At the same time, the new emergent structures exert selective forces on the cell phenotype decision dynamics. With the aim of understanding the mechanistic connection between single cell decision-making and associated multicellular dynamics, I develop multiscale mathematical models. My main focus is on understanding the cell decision-making in multicellular systems via mathematical modeling.



    1.     ‘Extracting cellular automaton rules from physical Langevin equation models for single and collective cell migration’, J. M. Nava-Sedeno*, H. Hatzikirou*, F. Peruani, A. Deutsch (submitted)

    2.     ‘On the therapeutic potential of bacteria against solid tumors’, H. Hatzikirou*, J. C. L. Alfonso*, S. Bartels, C. Stern, S. Weis, M. Meyer-Hermann, Cancer Res, 2016 (submitted)

    3.     ‘Why one-size-fits-all vaso-modulatory interventions fail to control glioma invasion: in silico insights’, J. C. L. Alfonso, A. Kohn-Luque, T. Stylianopoulos, F. Feuerhake, A. Deutsch, H. Hatzikirou, Sc. Reports (Nature publications), arXiv:1604.05082, 2016 (accepted)

    4.    ‘In-silico insights on the prognostic potential of immune cell infiltration patterns in the breast lobular epithelium’, J. C. L. Alfonso, N. S. Schaadt, R. Schönmeyer, N. Brieu, G. Forestier, C. Wemmert, F. Feuerhake and H. Hatzikirou, Sc. Reports (Nature publications), doi:10.1038/srep33322, 2016

    5.    ‘From Immune Cells to Self-Organizing Ultra-Dense Small Cell Networks,’ H. Klessig, D. Öhmann, A. Reppas, H. Hatzikirou, M. Abedi, M. Simsek, G. Fettweis, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications (JSAC), 2(20), 2016

    6.    ‘The extrinsic noise effect on lateral inhibition differentiation waves’ A. Reppas, G. Lolas, A. Deutsch, H. Hatzikirou, ACM Trans. Embed. Comp. Syst. 26(3) 19:1-18, 2016

    7.    ‘Stochastic models of tumour development and related mesoscopic equations’, D. Finkelshtein, M. Friesen, H. Hatzikirou, Y. Kondratiev, T. Krueger, O. Kutoviy, Interdisciplinary studies of complex systems, 7: 5-85, 2015

    8.    ‘Therapeutic potential of combinatorial anti-tumor treatments involving immuno- and vaso-modulatory interventions’, H. Hatzikirou, J. C. L. Alfonso, S. Muehle, C. Stern, S. Weiss and M. Meyer-Hermann. J. R. Soc. Interface 12: 20150439, 2015  

    9.     ‘A mechanical collective cell model for epithelial contact inhibition’ S. Aland, H. Hatzikirou, J. Lowengrub, A. Voigt. Biophys. J., 109 (7): 1347–1357, 2015

    10.    ‘In silico tumor control induced via alternating immunostimulating and immunosuppressive phases’ A. Reppas, J. C. L. Alfonso, H. Hatzikirou. Virulence, doi: 10.1080/21505594.2015.1076614, 2015

    11.    ‘An emerging Allee effect is critical for tumor initiation and persistence’, K. Boettger, H. Hatzikirou*, A. Voss-Boehme, M. A. Herrero, A. Deutsch. PLOS Comp. Biol. 11(9): E1004366, arXiv:1407.3147, 2015

    12.    ‘Model-based comparison of cell density-dependent cell migration strategies’, H. Hatzikirou, K. Boettger, A. Deutsch, Math. Mod. Nat. Phen., 10(1): 94–107, 2015  

    13.    ‘Avian photoreceptor patterns represent a disordered hyperuniform solution to a two-dimensional packing problem’, Y. Jiao, T. Lau, H. Hatzikirou, M. Meyer-Hermann, J. C. Corbo and S. Torquato, Physical Review E, 89:022721, 2014

    14.    ‘In silico analysis of cell cycle synchronisation effects in radiotherapy of tumour spheroids’, H. Kempf, H. Hatzikirou, M. Bleicher, and M. Meyer-Hermann, PLOS Comp. Biol., doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003295, 2013

    15.     ‘Multiscale dynamic density functional theory of solid tumor growth: Preliminary models’, A. Chauviere, H. Hatzikirou*, Y. Kevrekidis, J. Lowengrub, V. Cristini, AIP Advances, 2:011210, 2012

    16.    ‘Investigation of the Migration/Proliferation Dichotomy and its Impact on Avascular Glioma Invasion’, K. Boettger, H. Hatzikirou, A. Chauviere, A. Deutsch, Math. Mod. Nat. Phen., doi: 10.1051/mmnp/20127106, 2012

    17.     ‘Identifications of the intrinsic mechanisms for glioma tumor invasion’, M. Tektonidis, H. Hatzikirou*, A. Chauviere, M. Simon, C. Schaller and A. Deutsch, J. Theor. Biol., 287:131–147, 2011

    18.    ‘Integrative physical oncology’, H. Hatzikirou*, A. Chauviere, A. Bauer, P. Macklin, A. Leier, T. Marquez, M. Lewis, E. Beaerer, V. Cristini. WIREs Systems Biology and Medicine, doi:10.1002/wsbm.158, 2011

    19.    ‘Density-dependent quiescence in glioma invasion: instability in a simple reaction-diffusion model for the migration/proliferation dichotomy’, K. Phama, A. Chauviere, H. Hatzikirou, X. Lia, H. Byrne, V. Cristini, J. Lowengrub, J. Biol. Dyn., doi: 10.1080/17513758.2011.590610, 2011

    20.    ‘Lattice-gas cellular automaton and lattice-Boltzmann models for biology’, B. Chopard, R. Ouared, A. Deutsch, H. Hatzikirou and D. Wolf-Gladrow, Acta Biotheor., doi: 10.1007/s10441-010-9118-5, 2010

    21.    ‘How math oncology can help in the war on cancer’, H. Hatzikirou, A. Chauviere, A. Thompson, V. Cristini, Current Breast Cancer Reports, doi: 10.1007/s12609-010-0020-6, 2010

    22.    “Go or Grow": the key to the emergence of invasion in tumor progression?', H. Hatzikirou, D. Basanta, M. Simon, C. Schaller and A. Deutsch, Math. Med. Biol., doi:10.1093/imammb/dqq011, 2010

    23.    'Prediction of traveling front behavior in a lattice-gas cellular automaton model for tumor invasion’, H. Hatzikirou, L. Brusch, C. Schaller, M. Simon and A. Deutsch, Comp.  Math. Appl.,   59: 2326-2339, 2010  

    24.    ‘A game theoretical study of evolution of invasion in tumors', D. Basanta, H. Hatzikirou and A. Deutsch, Eur. Phys. Journal B. 63: 393–397, 2008  

    25.    ‘An evolutionary game theory perspective elucidates the role of glycolysis in tumor invasion', D. Basanta, M. Simon, H. Hatzikirou, and A. Deutsch, Cell Proliferation, 41:980-987, 2008  

    26.     'Cellular automata as microscopic models of cell migration in heterogeneous environments’, H. Hatzikirou, A. Deutsch, Curr. Top. Dev. Biol. 81: 401-34, 2007

    27.    ‘Multiple discontinuities in nonhuman vocal tracts - A reply’, T. Riede, E. Bronson, H. Hatzikirou, K. Zuberbuehler, Journal of Human Evolution, 50(2): 222-5, 2006

    28.    ‘Mathematical modelling of glioblastoma tumour development: a review’, H. Hatzikirou, A. Deutsch, C. Schaller, M. Simon, and K. Swanson, Math. Mod. Meth. Appl. Sc., 15(11): 1779- 1794, 2005 (Co-first authorship)

    29.    ‘Voice instabilities due to source-tract interactions.’ H. Hatzikirou, T. Fitch, H. Herzel, Acta Acustica, 92(3): 468, 2005

    30.    ’ Vocal production mechanisms in a non-human primate: Morphological data and a model.’, T. Riede, E. Bronson, H. Hatzikirou, K. Zuberbuehler, Journal of Human Evolution, 48(1):85-96, 2005


    1.    ‘Detecting Emergent Phenomena in Cellular Automata using Temporal Description Logics’, S. Delivorias, H. Hatzikirou, R. Peñaloza, D. Walther, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 8751: 57-366, 2014

    2.    ‘Encoding of positional information and maximum capacity of parallel coupled channels’, E. Jorswieck, A. Reppas, H. Hatzikirou, IEEE Information Theory and Applications Workshop (ITA), p. 1-8, doi:10.1109/ITA.2014.6804230, 2014

    3.    ‘Analysis of Lattice Gas Models of Tumour Growth by Means of Fractal Scaling’, S. de Franciscis, H. Hatzikirou, A. Deutsch, Acta Physica Polonica B, 4(2): 167-182, 2011

    4.    ‘Multiscale modeling in complex biological systems: the tumor growth paradigm’, H. Hatzikirou, G. Lolas, D. Dragatogiannis, C. Charitidis, I. Karsonakis, G. Kordas, 7-th GRACM International congress on Computational Mechanics, 2011

    5.    ‘From cellular rules to an effective macroscopic mean-field description’, H. Hatzikirou, L. Brusch and A. Deutsch, Acta Physica Polonica B Proceedings Supplement, 3(2): 399-416, 2010

    6.    ‘Voice instabilities due to source-tract interactions’, H. Hatzikirou, T. Fitch, H. Herzel, Voice Physiology and Biomechanics -Modeling Complexity, 63–70, Marseille, 2004


    1.     ‘Lattice-gas cellular automaton models for biology’, A. Deutsch, H. Hatzikirou, C. Mente, Springer Encyclopedia of Systems Biology, 2012

    2.    ‘The effect of vascularization on glioma growth’, H. Hatzikirou, A. Chauviere et al. Tumor Vasculature: Molecular, Cellular, and Tissue Level Aspects and Implications, T. Jackson (Ed), Springer, 237-260 2011

    3.     ‘Lattice-gas cellular automaton modeling of emergent behavior in interacting cell populations’, H. Hatzikirou and A. Deutsch Simulating Complex Systems by Cellular Automata, Birkhaeuser, 2009    

    4.    ‘Cellular automata models of tumor invasion', H. Hatzikirou and A. Deutsch, Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science, 913-922, 2009


    1.    ‘Cellular automata for the analysis of cancer invasion: Mathematics against cancer', H. Hatzikirou, Suedwestdeutscher Verlag fuer Hochschulschriften, ISBN: 3838117697, 2010


  • Prof Dr Michael Meyer-Hermann

    Michael Meyer-Hermann

    Head of Department

    +49 531 391 55210

    +49 531 391-55211


    +49 531 6181-5400

    +49 531 6181-7099


Audio Podcast

  • BRICS – Rechnen für die Infektionsforschung
    Die Mischung macht es – im richtigen Leben ebenso wie in der Infektionsforschung. Systembiologen am HZI und an der Technischen Universität Braunschweig mischen Laborerkenntnisse mit Computermodellen. Begleiten Sie Michael Meyer-Hermann virtuell an das BRICS und hören Sie weshalb es so sinnvoll ist, Biologie mit System zu betreiben.
  • Rechnen für die Gesundheit – Systembiologie bringt System in die Arthritis-Therapie
    Infektionsforscher arbeiten mit Zellkulturen, Krankheitserregern, nehmen Proben, messen und werten die Messergebnisse aus. Allerdings reicht das in der modernen Wissenschaft häufig nicht mehr aus – gerade wenn es um so komplexe Systeme wie uns Menschen geht. Hier kommen Computer ins Spiel: die Systembiologie. Hören Sie Michael Meyer-Hermann zu, wie er am Rechner die Jahrzehnte alte Therapie gegen Rheumatoide Arthritis auf den Kopf stellt...