Within the last eight years, my team has focused on molecular mechanisms mediating the crosstalk between the innate and the adaptive branch of the immune system. We investigate signaling processes and feedback regulation in primary human immune cells with a strong focus on dendritic cells (DCs), because these cells have the unique potential to translate signals issuing from innate immune cells into productive adaptive immune responses, which are not only crucial for maintaining health, but also play an important role in immunological disorders, including cancer and allergies. We are especially interested in dysregulated cytokine signaling within the myeloid compartment of the immune system and the consequences for adaptive immunity. Currently our main research interest lies on the following three research topics:


1) AML (acute myeloid leukemia)-derived cytokines and their action on cells of the immune system

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive type of blood cancer and the most common cause of leukemia-related mortality. It typically develops in older persons (>60 years) but can affect all age groups. While younger patients are eligible to receive intensive chemotherapy followed by allogeneic stem cell transplantation, the prognosis for older patients remains poor, with a 5-year survival rate of only 10-15%. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop alternative treatment strategies to improve clinical outcomes. Given that numerous cytokine-based drugs are already FDA-approved, a better understanding of cytokines and their role in AML may open new paths for novel strategies to treat AML. We are therefore interested in the dysregulated cytokine/chemokine network in AML and study potential consequences on immune cells.

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2) Immune responses induced by Helicobacter pylori and consequences for T cell activation

Gastric cancer, one of the most aggressive malignancies, is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Persistent infection with the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) has been identified as an important risk factor in the development of gastric cancer; consequently, H. pylori has been classified as a group-I carcinogen. In gastric tumor samples, the presence of increased numbers of regulatory T cells (Tregs) which actively suppress effector T-cell responses is likely a key feature in the development of H. pylori-associated gastric cancer. It is becoming increasingly evident that the phenotype of dendritic cells (DCs) dictates their activation profile and determines their ability to prime T cell responses. However, many of the underlying control mechanisms of DCs remain unclear. We are therefore strongly interested in H. pylori-induced activation/maturation of DCs, and the functional consequences of both processes for T cell responses. 

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3) NLRs and NLR-dependent activation of immune cells in allergy

Despite the fact that allergic diseases represent a significant health problem in the 21st century, the pathophysiology of this Th2 cell-mediated immune dysfunction is still not fully understood. Various factors including genetic susceptibility, allergen source and dose, structural features/stability of allergens and the route of exposure play key roles in this complex disease. To further elucidate the role of the allergen itself in this process, we recently compared the effects of recombinant, highly purified birch pollen allergen with birch pollen extracts. Those studies indicate that not the pure allergen itself, but the allergen extract is capable of inducing immune responses, indicating that especially the allergen context may play a crucial role in promoting allergic reactions (Strasser et al, 2017, Aglas et al 2018). This finding is in line with previous observations showing that allergen extracts are more efficient when used in immunotherapy than recombinant allergens. We hypothesize that in addition to the intrinsic properties of an allergen, the microcontext in which the allergen is delivered (e.g. microbial contaminations), may fine-tune the allergen-dependent immune response. Therefore, our studies focus on the role of NLRs and on the activation of NLR/Inflammasome complexes by microbial components delivered in the context of allergen exposure. 

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  • News
    With Alexandra Föderl Schmid, Israel correspondent of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Marko Feingold, President of the Jewish Community Salzburg, on the occasion of his 106th birthday.
    The former standard editor-in-chief and current Israel correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, presents her latest book "Unfassbare Wunder", in which she recorded 24 conversations with Holocaust survivors in Germany, Austria and Israel. Tuesday, 28 May, 19:00 pm, Max Gandolph Library of the University of Salzburg.
    On 27 April, Ass. Prof. i. R. Dr. Reinhard Rublack passed away. Reinhard Rublack came in the pioneering phase of the University of Salzburg as a graduate theologian (studies, inter alia, Rudolf Bultmann) with Professor Rudolf Gönner from Saarbrücken to the (then) Institute for Education. As early as 1970 he completed his second degree with the interdisciplinary humanities dissertation on "The educational political trend of the 'Salzburger Intelligenzblatt' 1784 - 1806."
    In the fall of last year, our university passed the "college and family" audit. In January, the Federal Minister for Women, Families and Youth, Dr. Juliane Bogner-Strauß, recognized the certification of the PLUS as a family-friendly university.
    In cooperation with the University of Freiburg, the University of Salzburg is bringing the digital election aid "WahlSwiper" for the first time to Austria for the upcoming European elections.
    The Kurt-Zopf-Förderpreis 2018 was awarded on Wednesday, 24 April, 2019, to the plant ecologist, Stefan Dötterl, the sleep researcher, Manuel Schabus, and the mathematician, Wolfgang Trutschnig. The Salzburg scientists each received prize money of € 5,000 for their outstanding publications.
    Thanks to a generous legacy on the part of Herrn Kurt Zopf, the University of Salzburg is endowing the €10,000.00 Kurt Zopf Prize for habilitated members of organizational units of the University, which include the fields of Humanities, Cultural and / or Social Sciences, Law or Theology.
    What is a successful life? The encounter with the unconventional grandmother, who is believed to be dead, and who lives in a hidden house in the middle of the forest, brings a young woman to unexpected discoveries that turn her life upside down. (Picus Verlag)
    It's that time again, on 29 May, 2019, the concert of the University Orchestra will take place for this semester. We look forward to seeing you!
    29 MAY: Dirk ROSE (Innsbruck): "Ich bin Dynamit" - NIETZSCHE als Polemiker // PUBLIC LECTURE SERIES // 6 March to 26 June, 2019, every Wednesday, 18.00-19.30h, at the Unipark Nonntal // www.wk.sbg.ac.at/de/kunstpolemik
    Guest Lecture on Ancient History, Archaeology and Mycenaology, A City of Stones. The topography of the Athenian inscriptions, Dr. Irene Berti, Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg, Monday, 3 June, 2019, 18:30 s.t., Residenzplatz 1/4, SR. 1.42.
    The Botanical Garden invites you to a free guided tour! Meeting point: Entrance to the Botanical Garden. Duration: Approximately one hour. The tour takes place in all weather conditions. Botanical Garden, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34.
    6 June, Katharina PRAGER: Der Zeitkämpfer KARL KRAUS – polemische und satirische Praktiken in der Ersten Republik // 12 June, Uta DEGNER: Literatur als „Kampfgas“. Polemik als produktives Prinzip bei ELFRIEDE JELINEK // 19 June, Daniel FULDA: Polemik im Dienst der guten Sache? ROBERT MENASSES Hallstein-Zitate und der Streit über die europäische Einigung // 26 June, Herwig GOTTWALD: Der Kampf um die Gesinnungsästhetik. CHRISTA WOLF und der deutsch-deutsche Literaturaturstreit.
    The 32nd Session of the Peace Psychology Forum on "Flight, Migration, Xenophobia and Racism" 14 -16 June, 2019, University of Salzburg, Unipark Nonntal.
    The continuing education offer for committed teachers and interested parties in the new compact conference format in the Großen Universitätsaula Salzburg. Register now and learn how to make children and adolescents feel secure!
  • Veranstaltungen
  • 28.05.19 Romanlesung mit Thomas Sautner „Großmutters Haus“
    29.05.19 Personalisierung und Digitalisierung als Beispiele aktueller Trends in der Psychotherapieforschung
    29.05.19 „Ich bin Dynamit“ – Nietzsche als Polemiker
    29.05.19 Sprachwandel R/Evolution von unsichtbarer Hand ?
    29.05.19 Konzert des Universitätsorchesters Salzburg
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