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Full NameProfessor Ulla Knaus
Organisation:University College Dublin
- infectious disease and the immune system
Other Research Fields:
Inflammation, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease
Postgrad Medical Specialties
- Emergency Medicine
- General Practice
- Infectious diseases
- Respiratory Medicine
Innate immune cells and mucosal barrier tissues are the first line of defense in the fight against invading pathogens. Our group focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms that innate and mucosal host defense use to protect the host from microbial insult, and how some responses wind up damaging the host by perpetuating inflammation, altering tissue regeneration and/or leading to fibrotic complications. We are interested in the dynamics of pathogen control by innate defense systems such as neutrophils or by epithelial cells in the mucosa, and in how interkingdom signaling shapes interactions between hosts and commensals, thereby determining disease outcome in an otherwise healthy or immunocompromised host (Cell Host Microbe 2012, Blood 2014, Cell Host Microbe 2016, PNAS 2016).
We are using state-of-the-art techniques in neutrophil/macrophage biology, mucosal barrier analysis, microbiology and genetically modified animal models, and collaborate closely with clinical colleagues for functional evaluation of genetic variants (CMGH 2015) and ex vivo tissue models.
ROS-producing NADPH oxidases are an integral and crucial component of the protective host response in bacterial, fungal and viral infections. We are interested in the role of ROS in the mutualistic interactions between mucosal epithelia, immune cells, commensals and pathogens. Elucidating physiological stimuli and control mechanisms for these enzymes will help defining the biological functions of oxidases, and constitutes a prerequisite for therapeutic intervention in oxidant-induced stress, inflammation and tissue injury.
Instead of evaluating outcomes retrospectively we will use animal models to simulate disturbances to the redox equilibrium. This approach will permit to determine in a controlled manner the actual effects of oxidants on gastrointestinal or pulmonary homeostasis, infectious disease progression or chronic inflammatory disease. These projects are centered on gaining mechanistic insights into the development and progression of disease.
Other available projects in the laboratory are focused on prevention of disease by altering the redox state of the host via therapeutic interventions. Projects in the laboratory are challenging due to the multifaceted nature of the questions and approaches, but we will provide excellent training in project and experimental design, literature search, scientific writing, and in developing presentation skills, and technically in in vivo disease models, microbiology, enzyme biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and microscopy, all with the goal to foster independence.