- Diploma Degree and PhD (University of Innsbruck, Austria)
- Research Scientist , University of Basel, Switzerland
- Research Scientist, Biomedical Research Institute, Bellinzona, Switzerland
- Senior Scientist and Director, Cytos Biotechnology AG, Zuerich, Switzerland
- Scientific member, Basel Institute for Immunology, Basel, Switzerland
- Postdoctoral Associate, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
Major Research Interests
- Dendritic cells, haematopoietic stem cells and progenitors and modulation of immune response (vaccination and tolerance)
My major research interest has been and continues to be how innate and adaptive immunity is regulated. In particular, dendritic cells (DCs)- the major professional antigen presenting cells of the immune system-, have been in my focus for the last few years and are topic of several of my research projects. As key players of immune responses, DCs are fine-tuning the balance between the opposing forces of tolerance and immunity, making them attractive candidates for several clinical applications. They make the decision between response or tolerance in the immune system and hence increased knowledge about their development and function will give us more opportunities to influence the immune system to our benefit.
In one of my projects, we are currently engineering “tailor-made” DCs by overexpressing or deleting genes known to be involved in DC-mediated tolerance with the aim of a therapeutic application in a variety of disease, like autoimmunity, transplantation or gene therapy. We established an efficient retroviral-based transduction protocol, which allows to overexpress a particular transcription factor called HOXB4 in bone marrow cells. This procedure permits us to maintain and grow in vitro multipotential hematopoietic progenitors for extended periods and therefore, provides us a wide window for time consuming genetic manipulations and selection procedures. The manipulated progenitors and their normal counterparts can then be differentiated to desired lineages of immature DCs or to their precursors for in vivo and in vitro studies.
Most recently I have generated in collaboration with Prof Klaus Karjalainen a worldwide unique set of transgenic mouse strains and their genetic crosses that can be used to ablate specifically subsets of DCs and Mf in vivo (so called DTR transgenicmice). DTR transgenic mice are currently the most efficient method in depleting cells via expressing a human Diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) under the control of a tissue or cell-specific promoter (“toxin receptor-mediated cell knockout”). We are currently exploiting these unique mouse strains to elucidate the role of different subsets of Mf and DCs in mediating protective immunity as well as inflammation in different infection models such as candida, influenza, tuberculosis and malaria.