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Cell Biological mechanisms mediating optimal immunosurveillance.

Biology Colloquium | Dr. Sudha Kumari | Jan 16th, 2024 (Tuesday)

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Healthy immunity requires that T lymphocytes (T cells) perform immunosurveillance. To execute this function, T cells must (1) infiltrate complex tissues, (2) identify antigenic signatures of disease via specialized intercellular junctions termed immunological synapses, and (3) amplify antigen-triggered signaling at the synapse. The regulation of each of these processes is crucial for mounting an effective immune response and defects result in numerous diseases. Yet, how these processes are regulated to achieve balanced immunosurveillance is not well understood- a knowledge gap that must be bridged if we want to understand immunity or effectively mobilize immune cells to tackle diseases using immunotherapies.

I have taken a highly interdisciplinary approach to answering these outstanding problems. Using disease contexts as natural perturbation systems in conjunction with cutting-edge techniques at the interface of immunology, cell biology, and Immunotherapy, we have identified as well as characterized pathways in T cells that facilitate immunosurveillance. These findings highlight the importance of studying the basic cell biology of immune cells to not only further our understanding of unique cell-cell interactions in biology that sustain our existence but also to generate rational design principles for new therapies for complex diseases such as cancer.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Sudha Kumari is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology at the Indian Institute of Science. Her work is focused on investigating the mechanisms of immunosurveillance in lymphocytes at molecular, cellular, and organ scales using interdisciplinary techniques.  Previously, Sudha was a research scientist in Darrell Irvine’s group at the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research, MIT. There she devised imaging methods to assess immunogen trafficking to lymph nodes during vaccinations and lymphocyte infiltration within solid tumours during cancer immunotherapy. Prior to this, Sudha carried out her postdoctoral research with Michael Dustin at Oxford/NYU where she studied the process of T cell activation in autoimmune and immunodeficiency diseases using in vitro reconstitution systems. Dr. Kumari did her PhD thesis work with Satyajit Mayor at NCBS studying mechanisms of membrane trafficking and endocytosis. 

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