Human tissue-resident NK cells – Niklas Björkström group

Our group performs translational immunological research studying tissue-resident natural killer cells in the human liver and uterus.

Björkström Research group, Department of Medicine, Huddinge.

About our research

A key focus of the group is to gain insights into the basic biology of tissue resident NK cells in liver and uterus. Through unique collaborations with clinical units at the Karolinska University Hospital, we receive a high number of tissue samples. With respect to the uterus, key questions of interest include detailed characterization of the uterine NK cell KIR receptor repertoires, functional studies of uterine tissue resident NK cells, as well as trying to elucidate the ontogeny of uterine NK cells. In the liver we have a specific focus on human tissue-resident CD49a+ intrahepatic NK cells and study their phenotype, function, development, and role during liver diseases.

Natural killer (NK) cells

Moreover, we have an interest in the role of natural killer (NK) cells in the pathogenesis of liver diseases such as primary sclerosing cholangitis, steatohepatitis (NASH), and hepatitis virus infections (HBV, HCV, HDV). These diseases strongly predispose for tumor development in the human liver and we are also performing tumorimmunological studies evaluating the capacity of NK cells to recognize hepatocellular carcinoma and cholagiocarcinoma. Outside the liver, we also have an interest in NK-cell function during hemorrhagic fever virus infections.

Our studies include phenotypic and functional assessments of NK cells with a focus on differentiation, education, and functional and transcriptional regulation. We work with high-dimensional 22-parameter flow cytometry, CyTOF, microscopy techniques, and new tools for visualization and analysis of highly complex flow cytometry data including SPADE, SNE, and Citrus.

Niklas on natural killer cells (in Swedish)

Open positions

We are constantly looking for exceptionally talented post docs with an ambition to explore new and unique aspects of human NK cells, liver immunology, and related questions. For more information contact: niklas.bjorkstrom@ki.se

Collaborations

We function in close collaboration with other groups at Karolinska Institutet, including groups at the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM). We participate in Karolinska Institutet - Hannover Medical School exchange program, in the International PSC Study Group.

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Publications

Selected publications

Funding

Past funding (2011-2020)

  • Swedish Cancer Society (2018-2020)
  • Swedish Cancer Society (2015-2017)
  • Swedish Research Council Young Investigator Grant (2015-2018)
  • Swedish Society for Medical Research (2015-2018)
  • NovoNordisk Foundation Young Excellence Project (2015-2019)
  • Karolinska Institutet CSTP-grant (2015-2018)
  • Cancer Research Foundations of Radiumhemmet (2014-2018)
  • Karolinska Institutet KID-grant (2014-2017)
  • Karolinska Institutet Assistant Professor Tenure Track Grant (2014-2017)
  • Wallströms Foundation
  • Magtarm-fonden
  • Julins Foundation
  • Swedish Society of Medicine
  • Bengt Ihre Foundation
  • Nanna Svartz Foundation
  • Magnus Bergwalls Foundation
  • OE och Edla Johanssons Foundation
  • Åke Olsson Foundation
  • Groschinsky Foundation
  • Jaenssons Foundation
  • Hedlunds Foundation
  • Åke Wibergs Foundation

Members and contact

Group leader

All members of the group

Open positions

We are constantly looking for exceptionally talented post docs with an ambition to explore new and unique aspects of human NK cells, liver immunology, and related questions. For more information contact: niklas.bjorkstrom@ki.se

Previous members

  • Sanna Nyström, now postdoc at University of Tokyo
  • Kimia Maleki, master-student, now PhD-student at Karolinska Institutet
  • Sebastian Lunemann, now postdoc at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
  • Julia Hengst, now Production Manager at Miltenyi Biotech
  • Erik Bergquist, now MD-student at Karolinska Institutet
  • Otto Strauss, now working in Medical Affairs in Rare Diseases at Pfizer in London. 
  • Christine Zimmer, now working at Glaxo Smith Kline, Germany, but will soon proceed with postdoctoral studies.
  • Isabella Sönnerborg now Physician at Kalmar Regional Hospital
  • Laura Hertwig, now Flow Operations Technical Lead at Covance, Genève
  • Ann-Charlotte Elkan, previously PhD, Research nurse, now retired