Immunological memory defines the ability of the immune system to (1) rapidly and specifically recognize an antigen that the body has been previously exposed to and (2) initiate a highly specific immune response. Traditionally, immune related memory is attributed to the adaptive immune response, i.e. T cells and B cells through cytokine release, direct cellular toxicity via antibodies. Natural killer (NK) cells are usually considered part of the innate immune system and considered not to be antigen-specific. However, recent publications suggest that NK cells can, under certain conditions, express memory-like features.
Using state-of-the-art techniques including flow cytometery and CyTOF in in vitro (organoid) and in vivo models (human and mouse), this projects will examine the role of memory-like NK cells in acute and chronic infection as well as autoimmune context with a focus on liver disease to assess their role in pathogenesis, disease progression in liver disease as well as their therapeutic potential in this context.

Student level: PhD
Supervisor: Professor Golo Ahlenstiel