2015 – I&I2

The symposium took place on the 19th and 20th of November 2015. The programme of the symposium is shown below.

Time Thursday 19th
8:30-9:00 Registration & Coffee
9:00- 9:05 Opening word Symposium Committee
9:05-9:10 Opening word Dr. K. Denzer
9:10-10:10 Lecture Prof. dr. Berent Prakken
10:20-11:20 Lecture Prof. dr. Jonathan Weitzman
11:30-12:45 Poster Session 1
12:45-13:15 Lunch
13:15-14:15 Poster Session 2 (Final 5)
14:30-15:30 Lecture Prof. dr. Andreas Deifenbach
15:30-15:45 Poster Awards
15:45-16:00 Coffee Break
16:00-17:00 Life Science Seminar Dr. Keira Melican
17:00-17:30 Drinks
Time Friday 20th
9:00-10:00 Lecture dr. Byron Martina
10:15-11:15 Scientific Workshops
Dr. Keira Melican
Dr. Vincent Munster and Dr. Emi de Wit
Prof. dr. Andreas Diefenbach
11:20-12:20 Carreer Development Workshops
Dr. Tim Schuijt
Dr. Jeffrey Beekman
Dr. Ingeborg Scheurwater
12:30-13:30 Potluck Lunch
13:30-16:30 Student Presentations
16:30-16:45 Student Presentations Awards
16:45-16:55 Closing Word Dr. K. Denzer
16:55-17:00 Closing Word Symposium Committee
17:00-Late Drinks


Prof. Dr. Andreas Diefenbach
Professor and Chair of Medical Microbiology, Research Centre of Immunology and Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Mainz Medical Centre, Obere Zahlbacher Strasse 67, D-55131 Mainz, Germany

Diefenbach’s group investigates how the immune system is capable of recognizing pathogens, because the key to the development of new preventive therapies against infections and tumors is to understand the operating principles of the immune defence. In this context, he focusses on the understanding of development and function of lymphocytes, particularly the’ Innate lymphoid cells’.

His talk will be titled:”Transcriptional control of innate lymphoid cell fate decisions”

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are a recently discovered family of innate lymphocytes that are substantially represented at mucosal surfaces and have been implicated in the protection of epithelial barriers. Various types of ILCs can be discriminated based on the expression of distinct transcription factors controlling the expression of a distinct set of cytokine genes endowing the various ILC subsets with a specific range of effector functions. Currently, three groups of ILCs are being recognized. Group 1 ILCs (ILC1s) are a diverse group of ILCs comprised of natural killer (NK) cells and other, poorly defined subsets of ILCs. It is believed that the ILC1 fate decision is controlled by the T-box transcription factor T-bet endowing ILC1s with the capability to produce large amounts of IFN-g. ILC2s express high levels of GATA-3, produce IL-5 and IL-13 and have been involved in immunity to helminth infections and in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases. Group 3 ILCs developmentally depend on the transcription factor RORgt and produce the cytokines IL-22, IL-17A and IL-17F. ILC3s are believed to be involved in the protection against intestinal bacterial infections and, if inappropriately stimulated, can be important drivers of inflammatory disorders. The transcriptional programs and effector cytokines of the various ILC subsets strikingly resemble those of the various T helper cell effector fates suggesting that such transcriptional circuitry already formed in the evolutionary older innate immune system. The various ILC subsets are developmentally related as all ILC lineages depend on the transcriptional regulator Id2 (inhibitor of DNA binding 2) that interfers with E2 protein-controlled gene expression. This raises the important issue if ILCs may derive from a common ILC progenitor (CILP). Identification of such a progenitor would allow to identify the molecular signals required for the specification of the various ILC lineages. I will discuss progress towards our understanding of the molecular programs regulating ILC fate decisions and our current models of transcriptional stability and plasticity of ILC fates. Finally, I will discuss an unprecedented role of ILC3s in the protection against mucosal virus infections.
Research in my lab is supported by grants from the European Research Council (ERC) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

Dr. Keira Melican
Swedish Medical Nanoscience Centre, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Melican is an assistant professor in the research group of Prof. Dr. Agneta Richter-Dahlfors. The group combines the fields of micro­biology/infection, neuroscience, and medicine as well as chemistry, organic- and micro­electronics. She focuses on defining the integrated pathophysiology of bacterial infections, and on generating novel technologies for neuromodulation.

A healthy organism represents a complex and heterogeneous environment in which an equilibrium state is maintained. During infection, abrupt changes in the cellular microenvironment occur, and the host mounts remarkably complex, concerted responses in order to contain microorganisms to the infection site and to clear the infection. The emerging area Tissue Microbiology aims to study the multivariate interactions occurring between host and microbe in the complex in vivo environment. Guided by data from our live in vivo model of UPEC-induced renal infection, which have provided valuable insight of the local, concerted host actions during pyelonephritis, we develop optical and electronic biosensors to allow for additional monitoring of systemic responses, as exemplified by CRP.

We also develop advanced biomimetic systems based on microfluidic and organic bioelectronics devices, to enable detailed in vitro studies under conditions that more closely resemble the physiological situation in the renal tissue. This presentation will describe the multidisciplinary approach we have taken to better understand the bacterial infection process, and demonstrate how our novel technologies can be extended into novel diagnostic tools.

The Workshop that will be given by Dr. Keira Melican will have the following subject: “Microbiology goes from Macro to Nano – the dawn of a new era in infection research



Prof. Dr. Jonathan B Weitzman
Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Epigenetics and Cell Fate, Paris, France

To focus on epigenetic changes in tumorigenesis, the group of Prof. Dr. Weitzman studies a unique cancer model in which transformation is induced by the intracellular parasite Theileria. Bovine leukocytes are transformed by Theileria to proliferative and invasive phenotypes of cancer cells. Thereby, new signalling pathways have been identified and are linked to tumor progression.
Infectious agents develop intricate mechanisms to hijack the genetic and epigenetic machinery of their host cells to change phenotypic states. Studying host-parasite interactions can provide insights into the signaling pathways controlling cellular phenotypes. Theileria is the only eukaryotic parasite which can induce host cell transformation. We have been studying how the parasite hijacks host signaling pathways to maintain cell transformation. We have identified epigenetic events in the host cell nucleus that are induced by the intracellular parasite. And we recently identified a parasite-encoded Pin1 protein that is secreted into the host cell and rewires host cell metabolism and oncogenic signaling.


Berent Prakken

Prof. Dr. Berent Prakken
University Medical Center, Laboratorium of Translational Immunology, Utrecht

The research group of Prof. Dr. Prakken studies the regulation of inflammation in chronic inflammatory diseases. The main focus of his research is the role of regulatory cells in the control of inflammation, the development of immune therapy for arthritis and the role of heat shock proteins as targets for specific immune regulation. Moreover, he is also a board member of the Eureka Institute for Translational medicine and co-director of The Center for Molecular and Cellular Interventions (CMCI).

This presentation will discuss new developments in bench to bedside research in chronic inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory arthritis. For the next decade the main challenge will be how to translate immunological insight into true mechanistic understanding and, ultimately innovative treatment possibilities. So far, progress in translating knowledge into clinical applications has been (far) too slow and new approaches are needed to better bridge the gap between bench and bedside. This calls for more quality in clinical research at different levels, and a new agenda that includes precision medicine, research collaboration, education of patients and young investigators, and sharing information .


Byron Martina

Dr. Byron Martina
Viroscience Lab, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Dr. Martina is team leader of a group which works specifically on exotic viruses like Dengue, West Nile, Chikungunya and Rabies virus infections. He and his team develop intervention strategies against these viruses by researching various aspects of pathogenesis.

The Viroscience lab strives to approach virology in a wholistic manner by researching all aspects of infection and the host‘s immune response as well as epidemiology to find a comprehensive solution for fighting viral disease. Such an approach to virology is especially relevant in the study of exotic viruses. Investigating arboviruses brings yet another dimension into the field, as the carrier insects present an additional level of immune evasion and opportunity for intervention.


This event was sponsored by:  BDbiosciences, Greiner bio-one and Organisults.