Johan Sandberg group - Role of T cells in human host defense

Innate and adaptive immune mechanisms work together to contain viral and bacterial infections. We investigate basic aspects of cell-mediated immunity as well as the immunopathogenesis of such infections. We do this with a basis in our solid understanding of fundamental immunology that we apply towards patient-based research and develop into translational approaches.

About our research

The majority of T lymphocytes carry diverse T cell receptors (TCRs) that display classical MHC-restriction. However, the T cell compartment also includes unconventional T cell subsets that recognize antigens presented by non-classical MHC-like molecules. Several of these subsets are evolutionarily conserved, display innate-like characteristics, and play important roles in immune control of pathogens.

The group is particularly interested in the complementary roles that adaptive CD8 T cells, and the unconventional innate-like T cells such as the invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells and mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells play in host defense.


T cells, NK cells, NKT cells, MAIT cells, CD1d, MR1

Group leader

Johan Sandberg

PhD, Professor, Group leader, Deputy Division Chief (Stf avdelningschef)
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Johan Sandberg is Professor of Viral Immunology at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge since 2013.

Group members

Johanna Emgård

Ph.D. and Postdoctoral fellow
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Johanna Emgård received her Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 2016. Her thesis work described a mechanism by which the oral pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum colonizes colorectal tumors.
In her spare time she illustrates plants and birds and has previously published the book Humlesjös Flora (2009). She also enjoys hiking and cross country skiing.

Marion Humbert

Ph.D., Postdoctoral fellow
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

As postdoctoral researcher in Johan Sandberg group, Marion Humbert is studying the role of MAIT cells in post-acute sequelae of COVID-19.

Marion obtained her MSc (Immunology, Microbiology, Infectious diseases) from Grenoble Alpes University, France, and her PhD (Immunology) from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Before joining Johan Sandberg’s group, Marion completed a first postdoctoral training at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, where she investigated T cell responses to viral infections.

Tobias Kammann

PhD student
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Tobias Kammann has previously trained as a Biochemist in Jena, Germany, where he studied aspects of immunometabolism and sepsis.

Elli Mouchtaridi

PhD student
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Elli Mouchtaridi has a BSc in Biology from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece (2018) and obtained her MSc in Immunology and Microbiology from Uppsala University, Sweden (2021).

Jagadeeswara Rao Muvva

Research Specialist
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Tiphine Parrot

Affiliated to research
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Elisa Raineri

Postdoctoral studies
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Elisa Raineri has a BSc and MSc in Biotechnology from University of Milano, Italy (2013 and 2016). She completed her PhD at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands (2022), where she studied Staphylococcus aureus mechanisms to reach different human host niches.

In the Johan Sandberg group, Elisa is studying human mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cell antimicrobial response to S. aureus, as well as bacterial and host mechanisms interfering with, or modifying this response.

Collaboration at CIM

The group also collaborates with Caroline Boulouis, postdoctoral researcher in Jakob Michaelsson's group at the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM).

Open positions

We always want to get in touch with talented potential co-workers. If you are interested in doing research within our group, as a degree project or as a researcher, please contact the group leader Johan Sandberg.

Projects and collaborations

The group is involved in a multitude of projects together with many collaborators, as exemplified by the list of selected publications. Project objectives include investigations of:

  • The role of MAIT cells in human immune control of bacterial infections including antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Adaptive and innate T cell-mediated immunity in response to acute viral infection, including SARS-CoV-2 and HIV-1 infections.
  • Adaptive and innate T cell-mediated immunity in response to viral and bacterial vaccines.
  • Role of tissue-resident T cell populations in immunity and tissue homeostasis.
  • Viral (HIV-1, HSV) and bacterial (S. aureus) immune evasion mechanisms.
  • Mechanisms of viral immunopathogenesis.
  • Application of unconventional T cells in immunotherapy.

Research support

  • The Swedish Research Council
  • The Swedish Cancer Society
  • The Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation
  • Center for Innovative Medicine
  • SciLife Lab/Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
  • Karolinska Institutet

Selected publications



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