NextImmune - PhD Training Program

Participating research groups

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Prof Markus Ollert (LIH, Coordinator)

Prof Markus Ollert is a clinician scientist with board certifications in dermatology and allergology. He is the inaugural director of the Department of Infection and Immunity (DII) and Professor of Clinical Allergology at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense University Hospital. Before joining the LIH he acted as the Scientific Director of the Clinical Research Division of Molecular and Clinical Allergotoxicology at Technische Universität München (TUM), one of the five German national centres of excellence in allergy research funded as a large-scale collaborative research grant by the German Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF), and as Deputy Chairman of the Department of Dermatology and Allergy. Before moving to Luxembourg, he held a professorship in Molecular Dermatology and Immunology from TUM, Munich, Germany. He also was a founding member of the Graduate School in Information Science and Health (GSISH) at TUM in Munich, funded through the Excellence Initiative of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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Prof Dirk Brenner (LIH, Deputy Coordinator)

Prof Brenner got his PhD training within the Tumor Immunology Program at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ, Heidelberg, Germany) and continued his research career at the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI, Toronto, Canada). His major interests are in the analyses of mechanisms of cellular signaling, cell death and in in vivo diseases settings within the adaptive and the innate immune system. His team will be involved in most of the in vivo animal disease models throughout NextImmune. Several high ranking publications that have been featured as a ‘Research Highlight’ in Nature Reviews Immunology, that were commented upon in the ‘Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum’, a recent Nature Reviews Immunology article and multiple invitations as speaker at Keystone Symposia document the international recognition of Prof Brenner in the field.

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Dr Reinhard Schneider (UL-LCSB, Deputy Coordinator)

The bioinformatics core facility group headed by Dr Schneider has already developed a number of projects involving the management, handling, and analysis of large-scale medical and biological data. The group has already implemented knowledge platforms for large-scale data integration projects in various disease contexts. Furthermore the group is implementing an IT-landscape ensuring a reproducible science environment. The bioinformatics core has strong expertise in bioinformatics, big data management, big data integration and analysis and text mining. Dr Schneider had been a group leader at the EMBL (Heidelberg) for 8 years before he joined the LCSB. He has very strong enterprise background as founders of several spin-off.

photo : (c) LCSB/University of Luxembourg

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Prof Jean-Luc Bueb (UL-LSRU)

The Immune Cells and Inflammatory Diseases (ICID) group of Prof Jean-Luc Bueb (including Dr Sabrina Bréchard and Sébastien Plançon) explores mechanisms associated to pro-inflammatory functions of neutrophils. Over the years, the group has established a model describing the regulation of NADPH oxidase activity by calcium-dependent signal transduction pathways.

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Dr Andy Chevigné (LIH)

Dr Chevigné’s research team focuses on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) implicated in virus-induced pathologies, inflammation and cancer, and relies on various in-house-established cellular assays and state-of-the art techniques allowing to address the most topical aspects of GPCR ligand binding and signalling. Their main achievements in investigating the determinants driving the recognition, activation and modulation of GPCRs by endogenous and viral ligands include the identification of a new virus-host GPCR interaction and the successful application of the phage display technology to develop antibody fragment-based antagonists of GPCRs.

    

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Prof Antonio Del Sol (UL-LCSB)

During the last few years, the Computational Biology Group (CBG) headed by Prof Del Sol has been very actively working on the development of network-based computational models for the study of complex diseases, cellular reprogramming and differentiation. The CBG has also developed network-based approaches for the identification of complex regulatory networks underlying cellular transitions related to disease progression. Additionally, Prof del Sol has expertise in biotechnological development in a company setting.

photo : (c) Michel Brumat / University of Luxembourg

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Dr Mahesh Desai (LIH)

Dr. Desai obtained his PhD at the International Max Planck Research School (Marburg), Germany and carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany and the University of Michigan Medical School, USA. His current research interests are the human gut microbiome and its roles in health and disease. Although diet is a major driver of the microbiota physiology, the gut microbiota-mediated mechanisms that link diet to intestinal disorders and enteric infections are poorly understood. His research work focuses on discerning these mechanisms and underlying eco-immunological processes via colonic mucus barrier−gut microbiota interactions. He has presented his research in various international meetings such as Gordon conferences and Keystone meetings, and has received awards from leading organizations such as American Society for Microbiology, Microbiology Society (UK), International Society for Microbial Ecology and Irish Society for Immunology.

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Dr Carole Devaux (LIH)

The HIV Clinical and Translational Research (HIV-CTR) Group led by Dr Devaux is interested in providing new translational knowledge on HIV cure using humanized mouse models, in particular on the HIV-specific response of cytotoxic subsets of CD8 T cells and NK cells. Their research focused also on the development of heteromultimeric multifunctional therapeutic molecules activating the complement action towards target cells and antivirals derived from natural products. The group is a partner in several European HIV and HCV networks.

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Prof Jorge Goncalves (UL-LCSB)

The control systems group led by Prof Goncalves puts most of its efforts on developing theories and approaches to analyze dynamic data. They have adapted tools from the fields of control systems and machine learning to learn how molecules (nodes) in complex networks regulate each other and how these regulations vary in response to genetic or environmental changes. They describe the application and development of new mathematical tools that facilitate rapid, bias-free mapping and dynamic modelling of biological networks and that permit identification of the specific systems alterations that underlie complex biological behaviors. Before Prof Goncalves joined the LCSB, he had worked as Lecturer and Reader in University of Cambridge for the last decade.

photo : (c) LCSB/University of Luxembourg

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Dr Feng He (LIH)

Dr He has established an original systems-biology innovation pipeline by developing a correlation-network based key gene discovery strategy, from time-series large-scale ‘omic’ data generation, to network analysis, to novel key gene prediction, to experimental validation. His network-guided strategy has successfully led to several novel key gene discoveries in various subsets of CD4+ T cells, which were either recently published in leading journals (e.g., Molecular Systems Biology) or patented. His current work focuses on systems immunology by integrating network biology with immunology. He has been recently selected to give talks in top systems biology conferences, e.g., International Conference in Systems Biology (ICSB), International conference on Systems Biology of Human Diseases (SBHD).

https://sites.google.com/site/heresearchgroup/home

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Dr Christiane Hilger (LIH)

Dr Hilger has focused her research on respiratory allergens from animal origin. Her team succeeded in the isolation of allergens from different small pet animals, in increasing the specificity of IgE-diagnosis by using these new molecular components, and in the demonstration of IgE-cross-reactivity between major animal allergens from different sources. This has helped to explain complex clinical sensitization patterns to animal dander. Dr Hilger has also long standing experiences in food allergy and maintains a close collaboration with the Immunology and Allergology Unit of the CHL. The high international visibility of Dr Hilger is reflected by an invited participation to the EAACI (European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) taskforce on ‘Molecular Allergology’, by invited conferences at the International EAACI Congresses as well as at the French and German National Allergology and Immunology Societies. Recently, she was nominated as a member of the WHO/IUIS Allergen Nomenclature Sub-Committee.

   

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Dr Annette Kuehn (LIH)

Dr Kuehn  performed fundamental research in the field of food allergy. In fish allergy research, her findings have contributed significantly to a better understanding of the clinical pictures of fish-allergic patients and to new perspectives for the development of novel diagnostics based on specific allergen components. Beyond a close collaboration with the Immunology and Allergology Unit (CHL), she established an international network of clinicians collaborating on different food allergy projects. The international recognition of Dr Kuehn resulted in an invited participation to the EAACI (European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) taskforce on ‘Molecular Allergology’ and by invited conferences at EAACI meetings as well as invited conferences of the French and German National Societies of Allergology. Upon invitation she wrote several reviews and book chapters.

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Dr Danielle Perez Bercoff (LIH)

Dr Perez Bercoff has long-lasting experience in HIV research. After working on identifying the players of resistance to HIV infection during her PhD, she has worked for many years on viral resistance to antiretroviral treatment, with a particular focus on viral evolution and selection under drug pressure and on the development of virological tools. Her work has led to publications in international peer-reviewed journals and to the licencing of a bioinformatic tool to type HIV. More recently, she is also focusing on the molecular links between inflammation and cancer development in collaboration with the laboratory of Prof Simon Wain-Hobson at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. A PhD student will be hired to investigate the role of APOBEC3A in chronic viral infections.

Dr Perez Bercoff will also co-supervise a PhD project associated to NextImmune, which is funded through the Marie Sklodowska Curie European Training Network (GA 642434): “ANTIVIRALS: a European Training Network on Antiviral Drug Development” together with the biotech company COMPLIX (Dr. Sabrina Deroo).

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Prof Jochen Schneider (UL-LCSB)

Prof Schneider has been working with the integrin family of adhesion molecules since 2002. His research covers both, basic molecular biology as well as clinical studies in the fields of inflammation and metabolic vascular disease.
He has identified a link between high fat diet induced inflammation and death in hyperlipidemic ITGβ3 knockout mice. The group works on the cell autronomous function of beta3 integrin-containing integrins using conditional knockout and overexpressor models. He has published various papers in the field of inflammation and atherosclerosis.

photo : (c) LCSB/University of Luxembourg

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Dr. Jonathan Turner (LIH)

Dr Turner and his Research Group are working on immune-endocrine and –epigenetic mechanisms. They have a widely recognised expertise in the genetic and epigenetic regulation of anti-inflammatory actions and stress hormones, particularly from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. His research interests span from in vitro mechanistic studies to preclinical (mouse and rat models) and human studies. The work of Dr. Turner has demonstrated the epigenome wide effects of environmental stimuli contributing to HPA-axis and immune phenotype development, particularly through early life immune challenges (e.g. LPS) and adversity (e.g. institutionalisation), as well as the interactions between genotypes and epigenotypes.

http://www.publicationslist.org/jonathan.d.turner

  

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Dr Jacques Zimmer (LIH)

Dr Zimmer was the first to study in depth the phenotype and functions of natural killer cells in human TAP deficiency during his PhD thesis (J Exp Med 1998, Eur J Imunol 1999). Since this time, he took part in the characterization of several additional cases and pursued the study of NK cells in this disease. During his postdoc time in Lausanne (Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research), he discovered that NK cells can perform trogocytosis (J Exp Med 2001), and this directly led to the generation of the cis-interaction model of NK cell education that he helped to establish (Nat Immunol 2004). He is internationally recognized for his work in the NK cell field. Dr Zimmer holds currently an assistant associate professorship at the University of Luxembourg. Dr Zimmer is deputy head for academic affairs in the Department of Infection and Immunity.