Successful immunotherapy against cancer, infectious or immune-based diseases is the result of a multitude of cellular interactions within the immune system, including antigen presenting dendritic cells, cytotoxic T-cells and cancer or infected cells. Despite detailed molecular information on individual immune cell subtypes, virtually no information is available on the functional capacities of the cell subtypes. Decoding immune cell-cell or cell-pathogen interactions is expected to revolutionise the fields of immunology, biology and (cellular) immunotherapy. The Immunoengineering group focuses on developing and exploiting advances in single cell technologies, e.g. droplet- and valve-based microfluidics, high-throughput microscopy, flow cytometry, single cell RNA sequencing to probe heterogeneity in immune cell populations and to study cellular communication on the single or few cell level in health and disease.
In this project you will work on a novel and ambitious single cell technology platform, that will allow 1) functional analysis of single (pairs of) immune cells and 2) design of minimal environments under the omission of external factors that could influence cellular behaviour. Specifically, in this systems immunology approach the focus will be on pairing single plasmacytoid dendritic cells with single T cells in high throughput by droplet-based microfluidics to decode cellular communication between these cells. To fully understand how dendritic cells drive antigen specific T cell responses, you will be responsible for the development of a microscopy-based platform that allows detection of multiplexed and longitudinal cytokine secretion by single cells in high-throughput. Together, this comprehensive approach is required to achieve a full mechanistic understanding of cellular activation, communication and heterogeneity which will ultimately lead to superior cell-based vaccines, monitoring of responses and stratification of patients.
The Immunoengineering group is a young, vibrant and international group at the TU/e that strives to make an impact on healthcare by an improved understanding on immune cell function and communication. The group is embedded in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Institute of Complex Molecular Systems and has access to state-of-the-art technologies and excellent infrastructure.
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