Get to know the team members

Posted by administrator on October 26, 2014

You may wonder what happens on a typical day on the ComMed group, what the team members deal with during their days in the lab. Because we are a interesting combination of experimental and computational scientists, our work can be surprisingly manifold here. On a chilly autumnal morning, someone is focusing on grant writing, in the wetlab human immune cells are being isolated and cultured, a sequencing run is in progress in another room, while in the office someone else is busy debugging his code or launching a multicore job on a server. At the same time, some administrative work has to be done, a revised version of an important document has to be fixed or a presentation must be prepared. Actually, it is not so much different from any other lab working in the "omics" era. Current biology has experienced the need for multidisciplinary research and multiple skills are required to tackle engaging research questions. Therefore, how do we combine or integrate our scientific activity? What is the fil rouge (unifying thread) of our research? I would doubtless say that everyone in the group is familiar with the immune system, either because he/she is an immunologist by training or because in his/her career the immune system has been a close encounter, that has produced a long-term friend.

On a typical day in the lab, it happens also to have have more or less intellectual discussions, geeky conversations or sometimes share funny links (on top of the important brand-new publications, of course...). Recently, some of us took a test to decide what is the immune cell that mostly fits our personality (link here). A graph with the results is shown below.

 

And here the description of the cell type personalities:

(Disclaimer: we do not own the images or the text, the original source is linked here)

 

Stem cell

You're a jack-of-all-trades, as evidenced by you polling evenly in several categories. You're good at just about everything, andyou've got the potential to do whatever you want in life. Try to focus on what's truly important so your talent can be put to good use. Like you, a stem cell has the potential to become just about anything the body might need. And, it also divides almost limitlessly, allowing your body to maintain homeostasis.

 

Marcophage

You're all about you. Your well-being means the most to you, and that means seeking happiness in whatever form you see fit, whether it be through food or money or love. You can be prone to mood swings as your goals and outlook in life change, but you're determined to discover who you truly are. Macrophages are efficient phagocytes, taking up antigen from the environment and digesting them for antigen presentation. These cells are capable of differentiating into M1 or M2 macrophages, which deal with pathogen clearance and wound healing respectively.

 

B cell

You're the hopeless romantic. Through all the difficulties, you always believe 'the one' is out there for you. You also build strong one-on-one relationships with a variety of people, and you can't survive without that contact. Once you have the support you need, you're an incredibly productive person. B cells depend on a variety of cells (dendritic cells, T helper cells) to survive and mature. Once they're developed, they can release antibodies to track down pathogens and activate other immune cells.

 

Dendritic cell

You're the social butterfly. You believe it's your job to interact with as many people in life as possible and make them comfortable. You're most at-home hosting events or leading a social gathering. You're also great in providing assistance to others and developing their skill sets. Dendritic cells help to bridge the gap between innate and adaptive immunity. They sample antigens from the environment and display them to T cells for adaptive immune responses. They also aid in B cell development, ensuring only the top ones make it to maturity.

 

Natural Killer cell

You are the law. There's a time and a place for everything, and it better not deviate. You believe rules are meant to be upheld. No exceptions. You tend to pick on or notice people's flaws, but you can be a tireless worker when you're called upon to help or lend a hand. You are constantly vigilant and see details others may not. As such, you might notice when your friends aren't feeling their greatest. Natural Killer (NK) cells are intrinsically capable of detecting cells that just don't look right. If they're stressed by infection or damage, they may not express markers they usually do. NK cells can then target these cells for destruction.

 

Treg

You're the pacifist. In any situation or confrontation, you want things resolved peacefully. You likely also take time to calm your friends or support them when life gets them down. You're kind at heart and just want everyone to get along. But, sometimes you just gotta' let 'em duke it out. Like a T regulatory cell, you're hoping to keep conflict to a minimum. Tregs spend their time making sure inflammation in the body isn't excessive. Their immunosuppressive ability is important, but can become detrimental when it's necessary for the body to clear an infection or tumor cells.

 

Granulocyte

You're the odd-ball. You like to wear your emotions on your sleeve and sometimes, you can over-share. You believe life is short-lived, and every moment must be celebrated and enjoyed. As such, you've got wild stories to tell and are willing to tell them to anyone who will listen. Granulocytes are composed of eosinophils, basophils, and neutrophils and release granules in allergic or anti-parasitic responses. Neutrophils are often the first responders to inflammation or infection. Neutrophils are the most abundant immune cell in your blood, but have a short life-span of a few days.

 

PS: The author of this post is a NK cells (He's the law...)

Unit of Computational Medicine

Karolinska University Hospital, L8:05
SE-171 76 Stockholm


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