Profession & Career

ESCMID Panorama

Research Grant Awardees 2007

Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding
born 1974 in Heidelberg, Germany; MD, Resident at the Department of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
 
Project
Comparison of early immune recognition of Staphylococcus aureus in nasal carriers and non-carriers

Research Interests
Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding’s main research interest is the recognition of bacteria by the human innate immune system. Her previous focus was on the recognition of defined microbial molecules that activate human immune cells via specialised pattern recognition receptors, e.g. toll-like receptors, thus inducing early immune defences such as the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, antimicrobial peptides and unspecific IgM antibodies. With this background she has now turned to the analysis of the human innate immune response to whole bacteria. Special emphasis is placed on studying the immune response to Staphylococcus aureus and on defining the nature of donor-dependent differences in immune responses such as differences in the induction of type I interferon secretion by plasmacytoid dendritic cells that represent very potent mediators of the very early innate immune defence. The goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms relevant for the recognition of S. aureus by individual human innate immune cell types such as the plasmacytoid dendritic cell and to clarify whether donor-dependent differences in the response of these cells to S. aureus stimulation account for clinical differences such as carrier versus non-carrier status or severity of infection.

Project Report

Paul D. Cotter
born 1975 in Cork, Ireland; PhD, Researcher at the Microbiology Department, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

Project
Post-translationally modified peptides produced by Gram-positive bacteria

ESCMID/FEMS Research Fellowship
Each year ESCMID and FEMS foster outstanding research in microbiology by young Europeans with joint fellowships. Paul D. Cotter has been selected to receive the 2007 ESCMID/FEMS fellowship in addition to his research grant.

Research Interests
Paul Cotter’s research focusses on the use of microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry to carry out investigations in each of three areas: The first involves research of antimicrobial peptides, and the post-translationally modified lantibiotics in particular, with a view to elucidating structure/function relationships and the generation of derivatives with enhanced activity against multi-drug resistant nosocomial pathogens such as MRSA and VRE. Secondly, he is studying the stress resistance mechanisms utilised by Gram-positive pathogenic bacteria with a particular emphasis on characterising the systems that enable Listeria monocytogenes to survive in acidic environments such as the stomach and macrophage phagosome. And finally, he has endeavoured to combine his expertise in both of these areas to research antibiotic and lantibiotic resistance mechanisms utilised by and the cytolytic peptides produced by Gram-positive pathogens.

Ruhidil Gülsen Özkaya Sahin
born 1973 in Aksaray, Turkey; MD, PhD student at the Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey (currently at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University Medical Faculty, Lund, Sweden)

Project
Investigation of the impact of autoimmune factors on the effector function of anti-HIV neutralising antibodies and neutralising antibody response in macaques and humans as part of a novel therapeutic vaccination trial
 
Research Interests
Ruhidil Gülsen Özkaya Sahin is a medical specialist in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases and is attending a PhD programme in microbiology/virology. She works currently at the Lund University Faculty of Medicine in the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Section of Virology as a postdoctoral research fellow. Her previous interest was on hospital-associated fungal and MRSA infections. More recently her research focusses on the neutralising antibody response to HIV, the role of complement in this response, the impact of autoimmune factors on the effector function of anti-HIV neutralising antibodies and the development of a novel therapeutic HIV-1 vaccine by using apoptotic HIV-1 DNA containing activated T cells.

Meghna Ramaswamy
born 1976 in Mumbai, India; PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Royal Free Hospital and University College Medical School, Department of Virology, London, United Kingdom

Project
Immunological mediators of herpes simplex virus control in HIV-1 infected individuals receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy

Research Interests
Meghna Ramaswamy’s research interests focus on the epidemiology, pathogenesis and host responses to HSV infections. Previous projects have included i) the development and evaluation of methodologies to detect HSV infection, ii) studies on the epidemiology of HSV genital infection in several distinct populations including STD clinic attendees and HIV-1 infected individuals, iii) sequence analysis of the HSV-2 UL14 gene in clinical isolates from ethically diverse STD clinic attendees, and iv) determining the impact of HIV infection on HSV-specific T-cell mediated immunity and the effects of antiretroviral therapy on the reconstitution of HSV immunity. As a postdoctoral fellow her current research includes characterisation of the integrase gene to detect HIV-1 subtypes in drug naïve HIV-infected patients, and analysis of HIV-1 minority species in HIV-infected patients failing first line therapy.

Lemonica Johanna Koumbi
born 1978 in Graz, Austria; MSc in Human Molecular Genetics, PhD student at the 2nd Department of Paediatrics, University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece

Project
Evaluation of the innate and adaptive responses against HBV in neonates born to chronic HBV carrier mothers
 
Research Interests

The main research interest of Lemonica Koumbi is on the neonatal viral immune responses, in particular against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The aim of her PhD project is to determine whether non-infected infants born to hepatitis B carrier mothers (HBeAg-negative) have encountered hepatitis B virus (HBV) intra-utero or perinatally and to investigate the ability of these neonates to mount T cell specific responses against HBV antigens. Her research focus is on the role of antigen presentation in this context. After completion of her PhD studies she intends to continue investigating dendritic cells, the main antigen presenting cells, and to explore their potential role in preventing paediatric infectious diseases.

Project Report

15 research grants were awarded

14 research grants were awarded

13 research grants were awarded

15 research grants were awarded

21 research grants were awarded

18 research grants were awarded

19 research grants were awarded

13 research grants were awarded

14 research grants were awarded

3 research grants were awarded