Research areas

  • QR180 Immunology - Autophagy, Dendritic cells
  • QR355 Virology - HIV-1, SARS-CoV2
  • QM Human anatomy - Intestine, Organoids

Research interests

I am a PhD candidate in the Ribeiro lab, the Autophagy-directed immunity group, within the department of Experimental immunology. During my educational journey I developed a fascination for infection and immunity and therefore focused my research on these subjects.  During my undergraduate studies at the LUMC in Leiden I tried to decipher the human intestinal microbiota and tested if any of these bacteria might be good candidates to fight intestinal pathogens such as Clostridium Difficile. Then, during my Masters, I studied the intrinsic biochemical properties of HLA-E and its binding to HIV-1 peptides at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Subsequently, I joined the Ribeiro lab as a Master student working with 3D intestinal organoids. In 2020, following my internship, I started my PhD project at the Ribeiro lab.

 

Currently, my PhD project focuses on the utilization of animal-free models to study HIV-1 transmission through the human intestinal mucosa. The intestine plays a key role in HIV-1 pathogenesis, as a primary entry site and due to the abundance of HIV-1 target immune cells, but little is known about the mechanism of HIV-1 entry into the intestinal mucosa due to the lack of relevant in vitro human intestinal models. We therefore developed a human primary gut-epithelial-DC co-culture organoid model, which recapitulates the cellular composition, polarization and barrier function of the human intestinal epithelium in vivo. We use this co-culture model to elucidate the mucosal events and mechanisms required to establish intestinal HIV-1 infection, and define the impact of enteric HIV-1 infection on mucosal immunity. In addition, we also use this model to study intestinal SARS-CoV2 infection and anti-viral drug testing.

specialisation

My work consists of a variety of technical lab skills. I am an expert in culturing 3D intestinal organoids and 2D gut-epithelial-DC co-culture organoid models. These models are used in the context of virus infection and transmission of viruses such as HIV-1 and SARS-CoV2 (BSL-lll). Within the Autophagy-directed immunity group I use microscopy to answer multiple research questions; 1) widefield and live-cell imaging to study the effect of autophagy on organoid development, 2) confocal microscopy to elucidate intestinal HIV-1 and SARS-CoV2 infection as well as the effects of viruses or compounds on cellular autophagy. In addition, my experiments also include basic laboratory techniques such as qPCR, ELISA, and culturing cell lines.

Research output

  1. Autophagy-enhancing drugs limit mucosal HIV-1 acquisition and suppress viral replication ex vivo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  2. Human TRIM5α: Autophagy Connects Cell-Intrinsic HIV-1 Restriction and Innate Immune Sensor Functioning

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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