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Research at the Division of Immunology

Pathogens hiding in immune cells have evolved multiple strategies to circumvent detection and to prevent elimination. To understand the underlying pathogen-host interactions, we study pathogen-containing compartments and their development in primary human immune cells. As models we work with obligate intracellular human pathogens Leishmania major and Chlamydia pneumoniae in combination with primary human innate immune target cells such as macrophages, dendritic cells and T cells. We found that pathogenic misuse of both apoptosis and autophagy mechanisms contributes to the establishment of productive infections.

We apply state of the art live cell imaging of compartment development and investigate host cell proteins involved in the dynamics of cellular defence. Combining this approach with electron microscopy analysis of the primary human host cell ultrastructure will enable us to understand how intracellular pathogens restrain an effective immune response. Genetic modification of primary human host cells finally allows us to investigate and manipulate susceptibility and resistance factors on a molecular level. Our ultimate goal is to identify cellular factors that actually are able to eliminate intracellular pathogens.

We aim to develop functionalized artificial structures (FASt) to guide and modulate antigen-specific cytotoxic T cell responses for targeted immunotherapy in tumour and autoimmunity.

The lab of Dr. Jörg Kirberg aims to further elucidate the basic mechanisms of T cell homeostasis and to identify pathways specifically ruling T cell interclonal competitiveness.

Who we are

Research Team - Division of ImmunologySource: PEI

Alumni

  • Dr. Katharina Arens (PhD: 2014-2018 PEI (Konsortialprojekt))
  • Dr. Elena Bank (PhD: 2011-2012 PEI (DFG ZA-533/5-1); Postdoc: 2012-2014 PEI (DFG ZA-533/5-1)
  • Dr. Rebecca Bohn (PhD: 2014-2017 PEI)
  • Dr. Peter Crauwels (PhD: 2011-2015 PEI (Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung); Postdoc: 2015-2017 (Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung); Current employer: Since 2017, Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Ulm)
  • Dr. Christodoulos Filippis (PhD: 2014-2018 PEI (Konsortialprojekt))
  • Dr. Sabine Förster (Postdoc: 2011-2014 PEI (Carl Zeiss Stiftung), 2015-2018 PEI (Bewertung von Zulassungsanträgen); Current employer: VIVONIC GmbH)
  • Dr. Anja Ulrich formerly Heinemann (PhD: 2016-2018 PEI (BMG van Zandbergen))
  • Dr. Meike Klein formerly Thomas (PhD: 2011-2015 PEI (DFG ZA-533/7-1); Current employer: Since 2015 STADA Pharma GmbH))
  • Dr. Susi Krämer (PhD: 2011-2015 PEI; Current employer: Rentschler Biopharma SE)
  • Dr. Christian Schütz (Postdoc: 2015-2017 PEI (Deutsche Krebshilfe); Current employer: Since 2017, Evangelische Akademie Villigst, Institut für Kirche und Gesellschaft)
  • Dr. Stephan Alberto Machado de Oliveira (PhD: 2012-2016 PEI (Science without Borders); Current employer: Universidade de Brasilia (University of Brasilia), Faculdade ICESP)

Projects

  1. Pathogen containing vacuoles (2011-2019), (DFG)

    Project "Pathogen containing vacuoles"Source: PEI

  2. Immune-modulatory potential of prototypic adjuvants (2015-2018), (BMG)

    Project "Immune-modulatory potential of prototypic adjuvants"Source: PEI


  3. Mechanisms of T-cell homeostasis and its perturbation in lymphomagenesis (2017-2020), (DFG)

    Project "Mechanisms of T-cell homeostasis and its perturbation in lymphomagenesis"Source: PEI


  4. Novel Drug Targets against Poverty-Related and Neglected Tropical Infectious Diseases: Charakterisierung apoptotischer Parasiten zur Identifizierung neuer Zielmoleküle für die Behandlung von Leishmaniose (2018-2021), (LOEWE)

    Project "Novel Drug Targets against Poverty-Related and Neglected Tropical Infectious Diseases"Source: PEI

  5. Selektive Rekrutierung und Umlenkung antigenspezifischer T-Zellen zur Eliminierung von Tumorzellen mittels eines Nanopartikelbasierten Ansatzes (2016-2019), (Deutsche Krebshilfe)

    Project "Selektive Rekrutierung und Umlenkung antigenspezifischer T-Zellen zur Eliminierung von Tumorzellen mittels eines Nanopartikelbasierten Ansatzes (2016-2019), (Deutsche Krebshilfe)"Source: PEI

Publications Prof. Dr. Ger van Zandbergen

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