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Jakob Michaelsson group

The main focus of our research is to investigate the differentiation, function and regulation of human Natural Killer (NK) cells during fetal development and in healthy adults, as well during viral infections.

Understanding how these cells develop and function during different stages of life, and during different conditions is important to achieve the long-term goal of our research, which is to aid in the development of new therapies in infectious diseases, cancer and transplantation. We continuously develop new techniques for advanced analysis of NK cells, and strive to be leading in flow cytometry analysis of human NK cells (currently 16-colour flow cytometry).

Keywords: NK cells, development, virus infection

Members

Jakob Michaëlsson, group leader, PhD, Associate Professor
Phone: +46 8 58589791

He was recruited to the Center for Infectious Medicine as a principal investigator in 2005, after 2 years as a postdoc at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, University of California San Francisco. He received his PhD at the Karolinska Institute in 2002, with professor Klas Kärre as a supervisor.
Jakob has a longstanding interest in human fetal immune development and the biology of human NK cells in health and disease.

Nicole Marquardt, PhD, Assistant Professor

Nicole completed her PhD in Hannover, Germany, in 2011, and got recruited to the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM) in the same year. She has a long-standing expertise in the field of NK cell research both in mice and humans. At CIM, Nicole is focusing on human NK cells and other innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in different fetal and adult tissues including the liver, uterus, and particularly the lung. Furthermore, Nicole is investigating the regulation of innate and adaptive lymphocytes in peripheral blood and tissues during acute viral infections.

Projects

Development of human NK cells in tissues

Little is known about how and where human NK cells develop and mature, and what signals are regulating NK cell development. Human NK cells have historically mainly been analyzed in the blood, and not in tissues. Only recently has it become apparent that NK cells distinct to those in peripheral blood can be detected in tissues. The overall aim of this project is to dissect fetal and adult NK cell development and function in tissues. In particular, we are investigating distinct tissue-resident NK cell populations in the adult lung, and aim at determining their role in lung diseases.

The role of NK cells in viral infections - model systems and chronic infections

NK cells are generally believed to be an important part of the immune response very early after infection. In order to study the earliest immune responses, including NK cell responses, to viral infections, we make use of a live, replicating, but attenuated vaccine (Yellow Fever vaccine) as a model. This approach allows us to study the immune response from before infection, through the earliest time points after infections to months after infection. Not only does this model allow us to investigate the earliest NK cell response in detail in a controlled fashion, but it also allows us to investigate correlates between different parts of the response, e.g. NK cells, T and B cells, and to define success factors for an efficient vaccine.

Epidemiological studies of NK cell receptors have demonstrated that NK cells are involved in conferring protection against HIV infection, as well as reducing viral load and slowing progression to AIDS. We are continuing our effort to understand the molecular basis for protection, as well as defining stronger correlates of immune protection in HIV, using a detailed analysis of NK cells in blood from patients with acute and chronic HIV infection.

Selected publications

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Open positions

We are always interested in getting in touch with talented and highly motivated potential co-workers. If you are interested in doing research within our group, please contact the group leader Jakob Michaëlsson.