Federica Sallusto, Switzerland: Jonathan Boulter Memorial Lecture 2010
"Towards better understanding of T cell immunity"
In memory of our colleague and friend Dr Jonathan Boulter who died in May 2008, members of the i3-IRG with support by the British Society for Immunology, the School of Medicine, Miltenyi Biotec and Meso Scale Discovery have created an annual memorial lecture. This series provides a forum for distinguished international speakers to come to Cardiff and present outstanding achievements and scientific advances.
This year’s event took place on Wednesday, 20th October 2010. The lecture was given by Dr Federica Sallusto from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Bellinzona, Switzerland. Dr Sallusto is one of the leading immunologists of our time and has published more than 100 papers, which together have accumulated >20,000 citations. Based on her outstanding contributions to our current understanding of immune responses, she is ranked by Times Higher Education among the “20 Top Scientists in Immunology“ by total citations (1998-2008), and is listed by Thomson ISI as “Highly Cited Researcher in Immunology”.
In her lecture, Dr Sallusto gave an excellent overview of the present knowledge of human T cell responses and their polarisation toward functionally distinct subsets, with an emphasis of the newly emerging subsets characterised by the signatory cytokines interleukin-17 (Th17 cells) and interleukin-22 (Th22 cells), and their potential clinical relevance in infection and autoimmunity. She then introduced novel high-throughput technologies to dissect antigen-specific immune responses in a qualitative and quantitative manner, by using specially developed human ‘T cell libraries’ which will undoubtedly find numerous applications for the evaluation of vaccine candidates, for testing the antigenicity of therapeutic proteins, drugs, and chemicals, and for the generation of antigen-specific T cell clones for adoptive cellular immunotherapy. In a similar way her laboratory is also performing large-scale screenings of human ‘B cell libraries’, which have already resulted in the identification of highly promising antibodies capable of specifically blocking a number of different viruses and thus representing exciting new tools for passive vaccinations.
On the following day, Dr Sallusto gave an outstanding research summary of her most recent work in progress on the generation and regulation of pathogen-specific human Th17 cells, introducing a new concept of how innate responses eventually shape the quality of the ensuing adaptive response.
The visit was highlighted by many unique opportunities for informal chats and stimulating discussions with our invited guest, be it during the day in the i3-IRG laboratories, at the well-attended wine reception after the Memorial Lecture or at a very pleasant dinner in Cardiff Bay, which allowed us to appreciate Dr Sallusto not only as a great immunologist but also an interesting, charming and inspiring person. We especially appreciated the time Dr Sallusto dedicated to exchanging ideas with a group of our PhD students, which provided many fresh thoughts for their ongoing studies.
Plans for the Jonathan Boulter Memorial Lecture 2011 are in progress, which is likely to take place in autumn 2011.
- 21st October 2010