Doctoral fellow – Lab of Experimental Immunology (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Georges Leclercq (PhD)
The research focus lies within the field of human natural killer cells (NK cells). Because of their role in cancer immunosurveillance, NK cells are abundantly researched as promising agents for cancer immunotherapy. Whereas different approaches using NK cells in cancer therapy have already been used in the clinic, there are still some major limitations both regarding ex vivo expansion of large numbers of NK cells and arming the NK cell to augment the anti-tumor effect. Differentiation and maturation of NK cells is tightly regulated by a complex network of transcription factors.
Current knowledge on the role of transcription factors in NK cells comes from murine data, whereas their role in human NK cells is limited. Therefore, the aim of this research is to uncover the transcriptional network involved in the differentiation of human hematopoietic stem cells towards mature NK cells and in the maintenance and function of mature NK cells. The outcome of this research can be of high value for optimization of NK cell-based cancer immunotherapeutic strategies.