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PEI researcher awarded PEG doctoral prize from the Paul Ehrlich Society for Chemotherapy

Portrait of Dr Julia UebeleDr Julia Uebele Source: PEI

Dr. Julia Uebele has been awarded the PEG Doctorate Award 2018 by the Paul Ehrlich Society for Chemotherapy (Paul-Ehrlich-Gesellschaft für Chemotherapie e.V.). She completed her PhD thesis on the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus in the research group of Professor Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding, Head of the Department of Microbiology of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI). At a festive event on 5 October 2018, Uebele was honored with three more researchers for her dissertation.

Dr Julia Uebele teamed up with colleagues and worked on the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which is a dreaded germ due to the frequent resistance to many antibiotics (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus). Especially in hospital infections, these pathogens play an important role. This work presents aspects and approaches that can be very important for the development of an efficacious vaccine against S. aureus.

In her work, Uebele proved that certain immune cells (T cells) are formed when they come into contact with S.aureus, releasing messenger substances that are not used to eliminate the pathogen. They rather seem to promote tolerance to the bacterium. However, there are also other T cell responses to S. aureus, which definitely lead to the pathogen being fought. In their own experiments, Uebele and colleagues were able to shift the balance between tolerance of the pathogen (no defense) and pathogen defense towards a stronger immune response to S. aureus. Uebele published the research underlying the thesis in the journal Plos Pathogens.

Uebele J, Stein C, Nguyen MT, Schneider A, Kleinert F, Tichá O, Bierbaum G, Götz F, Bekeredjian-Ding I (2017): Antigen delivery to dendritic cells shapes human CD4+ and CD8+ T cell memory responses to Staphylococcus aureus.
PLOS Pathog May 25 [Epub ahead of print].
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