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The Buchholz lab investigates the development of immunological memory, starting out from single antigen-specific lymphocytes in vivo and in vitro. Thereby, we break down adaptive immune responses into their most fundamental building blocks. In the past, this unique experimental approach of "single cell fate-mapping" has shown us that even physiological immune responses to infection do not harness the full protective potential available in every antigen-specific lymphocyte. Our goal is, to make this full potential accessible through tailored vaccination strategies and optimized immunotherapeutic approaches. To achieve this goal, we are currently developing novel fate mapping approaches such as "single-cell colour barcoding" and "single-cell RNA barcoding". Moreover, we aim to visualize how fundamental properties such as asymmetric cell division or cell cycle speed shape lymphocyte fate decisions. These approaches have already generated exciting new insights into the biology of T and NK cells. We envision, that in the long run, they will enable us to further resolve, how single lymphocytes can be programmed for optimal acute protection and long-lasting immunological memory.
Currently, we study CD8 and CD4 T cell differentiation as well as adaptive-like immune responses emerging from single NK cells. Therefore, we utilize Lymphocytic choriomemingitis virus and murine Cytomegalovirus infection models. In these model systems, we explore how T cell exhaustion can be prevented and how strong immune responses against chronic-persistent and chronic-latent infections can be maintained. Finally, we are studying T cell responses against malignant tumors and aim to understand the differentiation and migration dynamics that decide between tumor rejection or T cell dysfunction.
Our work is currently supported by the European research commission (ERC-Starting-Grant 2020), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 1054, TRR 338 and GRK 2668), the Deutsche Krebshilfe (DKH) and the Else-Kröner-Fresenius Stiftung.
Our recent work has been awarded the prestigious publication prize from the Else-Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (https://www.ekfs.de/aktuelles/presse/publikationspreis-2020)(link is external)) as well as the Georges-Köhler-Award from the German Society for Immunology for outstanding young independent researchers (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/eji.202170106)(link is external) and (https://dgfi.org/ausgezeichnet-deutsche-gesellschaft-fuer-immunologie-dgfi-ehrt-herausragende-Nachwuchswissenschaftler-4/)(link is external).