- Rehwinkel Group: Nucleic Acid Sensing Research Group
I've always been fascinated by the fact that our immune system, designed to protect us against pathogens and tumours, can also, in some circumstances, be harmful and trigger inflammatory or auto-immune diseases. During my PhD, I've been working on the role of environmental factors (as metabolic stress and IL-6 produced by dendritic cells) on T cell survival and function. I'm now focusing on the detection of viral nucleic acids by infected cells with the same desire of understanding the fine tuning of the immune response. I'm currently developing a genetic screen based on the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to dissect the signalling cascade triggered by the presence of DNA in the cytoplasm of cells. CRISPR-Cas9 is a new and powerful tool to modulate the expression of specific genes. I'm using a genome wide CRISPR library to investigate the potential role of about 19,000 genes in cytoplasmic DNA sensing. It's an unbiased approach to identify potential targets to modulate the immune response, in order to develop new anti-viral or anti-tumoral therapies, improve vaccine adjuvant or reduce the activation of the immune system in some inflammatory diseases. I'm also organising the Science Career Seminars on behalf of the WIMM postdoc association. Our aim is to inspire PhD students and post-docs to explore alternative career pathways in Science by inviting people who are working in different domains (research in academia or industry, communication, consultancy, patent law, bioinformatics, etc).