Research and Training
Our long-term research interest is to investigate the role of T cells in autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Ongoing research projects are dedicated to understand the contributions of epigenetic modifications for T cell stability under inflammatory conditions.
T cell – synovial fibroblast (SF) interactions in Rheumatoid Arthritis
T cells play a central role in the pathogenesis of RA. Interactions between CD4+ T cells and SF contribute to persistent destructive synovial inflammation, supporting the importance of T cell – SF crosstalk. This project aims to understand factors that enhance T cell – SF interactions and its functional consequences. Transcriptional studies in combination with automated high content microscopy will allow to identify new treatment targets which inhibit cell-cell interactions.
The project is funded by the Austrian National Bank.
Histone Deacetylase inhibitors as a new treatment target for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
The differentiation of T cells and the acquisition of effector and regulatory functions are accompanied by changes in gene expression programs, which in part are regulated and maintained by epigenetic processes. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) and histone acetyltransferases (HATs) are key epigenetic regulators that function by mediating dynamic changes in the acetylation of histones at lysine residues. Within this project we study the enhancer signature of T cells from patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis by chromatin profiling and the potential of HDAC inhibitors to reprogram the pathogenic signature of T cells. The project is embedded in the SFB-F70 project.
Control of immune tolerance by regulatory elements
Regulatory T cells control a large array of immune responses which relies on their capacity to adapt to their local environment. Acquisition of specific transcription factors is thereby necessary to control distinct disease settings. Within our project we investigate how specific transcription factors control the development and function of effector and regulatory T cells.
The experimental strategies entail state-of-the-art technologies, including transcriptomic and epigenomic analysis, as well as advanced cell biology techniques, a variety of immunological tools, biochemical and molecular approaches. Using human patient material as well as in vivo models offers the opportunity to highlight the translational aspects within all performed projects.
Postdocs and PhD students will work on cutting-edge research projects in a collaborative research environment. The PhD Program of the Medical University of Vienna provides excellent training opportunities in the field of immunology.
Existing mentoring programs at the Medical University of Vienna as well as national and international collaborations provide an excellent basis for an international successful scientific career within academia and/or life science industry. All members of the laboratory are highly integrated into the existing ongoing collaborations of the RTCure and SFB consortium.
Additional training in paper and grant writing, reviewing of manuscripts and regulator presentations at national and international meetings will allow young researchers to establish an individual career as an independent researcher. PhD students will participate within the PhD programs of the Medical University of Vienna.