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Lunch Pitches with Verena Kohler and Mattias Forsell

To encourage cross pollination of ideas between researchers from different disciplines, IceLab hosts interdisciplinary research lunches with the vision of allowing ideas to meet and mate. During the Lunch Pitch Season, the creative lunches take place at KBC on a Wednesday.
Place: KBC Glasburen
Time: Wednesday 14 February at 12:00.

Pitch 1: Verena Kohler: The Ageing Chaperome: A New Perspective on Health and Disease

Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology

Have you ever wondered how our cells keep their proteins in check? It’s all thanks to a network of protein quality control factors, known as the cellular chaperome. These unsung heroes maintain a delicate balance in protein production, maintenance, and degradation, ensuring cellular health. However, as we age, this balance gets disrupted, leading to diseases like cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. In an era where ageing is a significant societal concern, our understanding of this phenomenon’s molecular fundamentals and complexity is just beginning to be explored.  

The research of our young group focuses on understanding how ageing affects the cellular chaperome. We are particularly interested in how communication between organelles, each harbouring their own subnetwork of folding factors, changes with age.

We are performing screening in yeast using high-end robotic handling systems to modernize traditional yeast ageing studies by incorporating high-throughput methodologies. Now, you might be wondering, why yeast? Good question! Yeast, specifically Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is an ideal model due to its short lifespan and high inter-species conservation. It allows us to understand the fundamentals before adding the complexity of higher organisms. But our journey does not stop at yeast. We are also applying what we learn to human cell lines, aiming to identify the key players in the cellular chaperome crucial at different life stages and to understand the communication pathways between different parts of this molecular network. To successfully transition to validation in human cell culture, we are undertaking bioinformatic cross-correlation approaches, considering high inter-species conservation but significantly fewer isoforms in yeast than higher eukaryotes.

But we don’t want to do it alone. 


Interested in: We’re looking for collaborators who can help us develop sensors for mass spectrometry, introduce machine learning into our screen analysis, and explore automation of our cross-correlation approaches. So, if you’re up for a challenge and keen to unlock the secrets of the ageing chaperome, let’s chat over lunch!


Pitch 2: Mattias Forsell: Understanding factors that may improve our decreased lifespan at old age

Professor, Department of Clinical Microbiology

Human aging is a strong predictor of death from infections or comorbidities. The Forsell / Johansson groups have been performing longitudinal biomonitoring on care homes for the elderly since late 2021. From this cohort of more than 3000 individuals, we have dissected the role of Covid-19 vaccination response for virus-associated mortality in the population (Vikström et al, Lancet RHE 2023 and Blom et al Lancet ID 2023). In addition to longitudinal data on immune responses to different vaccines and infections, we now have access to national registry data on comorbidities, mortality, reported infections, medication, staff, and geographical location of the participants. In addition, data on infections in staff and their relatives will be available. Our team currently lacks the capacity for state-of-the-art analysis of our large data sets, and we are looking for collaborations to elucidate risk factors that leads to increased or shortened life expectancy in old individuals.

Principal investigators: Mattias Forsell and Anders Johansson are Professors at Department of Clinical Microbiology and specializes in immunology or public health, respectively.

Interested in: finding collaborations to elucidate risk factors that lead to increased or shortened life expectancy in old individuals, using massive amounts of data from vaccination/infection on a population level.



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