Dr Francesco Boccellato joins us from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany. Francesco specialises in generating 3D culture models of the human gastro-intestinal mucosa for the purpose of studying the effect of cancer-associated pathogens such as Helicobactor pylori and Epstein-Barr virus. In his future research, Francesco plans to: (1) further develop complex tissue culture systems to mimic chronic infection in vitro; (2) understand the molecular basis of the regenerative programme initiated by infection; and (3) understand the genetic consequences of chronic infection.
Dr Pedro Moura Alves has also recently completed his post-doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany. Pedro’s research background is in immunology, with his particular specialism in the study of host-pathogen interactions via pattern recognition receptors. His biggest scientific discovery to date stems from his work on the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR), which is involved in host recognition of bacterial virulence factors, including those from clinically important pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Pedro plans to research: (1) the role of the AhR as a host sensor of bacterial communication and infection dynamics; (2) the AhR’s potential to shape the immune response so that it is appropriate to the stage of infection; and (3) the related impact on bacterial adaptation strategies during the course of infection.