A photo of Tamara Tilburgs.

Member, Division of Immunobiology

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Biography & Affiliation


Dr. Tamara Tilburgs obtained her Ph.D. degree in Reproductive Immunology at Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands in the lab of Dr. Frans Claas, where she studied decidual T cell responses in healthy human pregnancies. She conducted a postdoctoral fellowship and held an Instructor position in Dr. Jack Strominger’s laboratory at the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University, where she focused on the molecular mechanisms of immune tolerance by HLA-G+ extravillous trophoblasts.

Currently, Dr. Tilburgs’ is an Assistant Professor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she investigates how maternal immune cells at the maternal-fetal interface establish tolerance to fetal antigens while at the same time maintaining immunity to viral and bacterial infections. She has published over 25 peer-reviewed papers in the area of reproductive immunology with a more specific scientific production in the field of immune regulatory mechanisms by HLA-G+ extravillous trophoblasts and decidual regulatory T cells as well as decidual NK cell and decidual effector T cell responses to placental and viral antigens.

Clinical Interests

Pregnancy complications; contribution of placental inflammatory responses to development of spontaneous preterm birth and preeclampsia

Research Interests

Mechanisms of maternal-fetal immune tolerance and placental immunity in human pregnancy

Academic Affiliation

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Research Divisions

Immunobiology, Inflammation and Tolerance


PhD: Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands, 2004-2008.

Post Doctoral Fellowship: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2009-2013.

Instructor: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2014-2019.


Selected Publication

The Dual Role of HLA-C in Tolerance and Immunity at the Maternal-Fetal Interface. Papuchova, H; Meissner, TB; Li, Q; Strominger, JL; Tilburgs, T. Frontiers in Immunology. 2019; 10.

Three Types of Functional Regulatory T Cells Control T Cell Responses at the Human Maternal-Fetal Interface. Salvany-Celades, M; van der Zwan, A; Benner, M; Setrajcic-Dragos, V; Gomes, HA B; Iyer, V; Norwitz, ER; Strominger, JL; Tilburgs, T. Cell Reports. 2019; 27:2537-2547.e5.

Mixed signature of activation and dysfunction allows human decidual CD8(+) T cells to provide both tolerance and immunity. van der Zwan, A; Bi, K; Norwitz, ER; Crespo, AC; Claas, FH J; Strominger, JL; Tilburgs, T. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2018; 115:385-390.

HLA-G: At the Interface of Maternal-Fetal Tolerance. Ferreira, LM R; Meissner, TB; Tilburgs, T; Strominger, JL. Trends in Immunology. 2017; 38:272-286.

Cytotoxic potential of decidual NK cells and CD8+T cells awakened by infections. Crespo, AC; van der Zwan, A; Ramalho-Santos, J; Strominger, JL; Tilburgs, T. Journal of Reproductive Immunology. 2017; 119:85-90.

Expression of KIR2DS1 by decidual natural killer cells increases their ability to control placental HCMV infection. Crespo, AC; Strominger, JL; Tilburgs, T. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2016; 113:15072-15077.

A distant trophoblast-specific enhancer controls HLA-G expression at the maternal-fetal interface. Ferreira, LM R; Meissner, TB; Mikkelsen, TS; Mallard, W; O'Donnell, CW; Tilburgs, T; Gomes, HA B; Camahort, R; Sherwood, RI; Gifford, DK; et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2016; 113:5364-5369.

The HLA-G cycle provides for both NK tolerance and immunity at the maternal-fetal interface. Tilburgs, T; Evans, JH; Crespo, AC; Strominger, JL. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2015; 112:13312-13317.

CD8+ Effector T Cells at the Fetal-Maternal Interface, Balancing Fetal Tolerance and Antiviral Immunity. Tilburgs, T; Strominger, JL. American journal of reproductive immunology and microbiology : AJRIM. 2013; 69:395-407.

Two Unique Human Decidual Macrophage Populations. Houser, BL; Tilburgs, T; Hill, J; Nicotra, ML; Strominger, JL. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2011; 186:2633-2642.