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Mariolina Salio


Clinical Research Fellow

I graduated in Medicine at the University of Torino, Italy, after spending some time as a visiting research student at Mount Sinai Medical School (New York) and Harvard Medical School (Boston). I then joined the lab of Prof Antonio Lanzavecchia at the Basel Institute for Immunology in 1996, to work on human Dendritic Cells, within the EUNIDI network (European Union Network for Investigation of Dendritic Cell Immunotherapy). I moved to Oxford at the end of 1999 and joined the group of Prof Vincenzo Cerundolo in the MRC Human Immunology Unit.  My main research interest is understanding how Dendritic Cells, the specialized antigen presenting cells of the immune system orchestrate immune responses and efficiently prime antigen specific T cells. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how subset of immune cells known as innate-like T cells or unconventional T cells modulate Dendritic Cell activation. The two main subsets of innate like T cells I have been studying are CD1d-restricted iNKT cells and MR1-restricted MAIT cells, which recognize non-peptidic antigens. 

To understand the molecular mechanisms of iNKT cell and MAIT cell activation and their cross-talk with Dendritic Cells, I use a range of cellular and molecular techniques, and I am particularly interested in developing multiparameter flow cytometry, using our recently acquired BD X50 Symphony instrument. In addition to understanding the fundamental biology of innate like T cells, I am investigating their role in disease setting, such as cancer. Because of their abundance in humans and their key location at mucosal sites, I am studying the function of innate-like T cells in modulating the balance between graft versus host disease (GvHD) and graft versus leukaemia (GVL) in patients who undergo bone marrow transplantation for haematological malignancies.

I lecture students at the MSc in Integrated Immunology (NDS, Oxford) on unconventional T cells, with a focus on CD1 and MR1 restricted T cells. I also have an interest in Cancer Immunology and run ad hoc tutorials for Williams students at Exeter College.