Myriam Aouadi, PhD, Group leader
I received my PhD in June 2006 from the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France, in the laboratory of Yannick Le Marchand-Brustel. My work focussed on the role of MAPK pathways in the commitment of embryonic stem cells in different lineages. I found that p38MAPK is an important player in the early steps of neurogenesis and myogenesis, while it is required for the late stages of adipogenesis. In 2006, I joined the laboratory of Michael Czech at the University of Massachusetts to work on the emerging field of immunometabolism, that investigates the interactions between immune and metabolic cells. During my postdoctoral studies, I developed a method to deliver siRNA specifically to macrophages in vivo. This unique technology allows the study of particular factors expressed by macrophages specifically. In 2009, I became assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts and used this novel technology to show that while macrophages in the adipose tissue could be detrimental to insulin sensitivity they could be beneficial as well.
I started my laboratory at the Integrated Cardio-Metabolic Center at the Karolinska institute in 2015. My lab investigates the multiple roles and heterogeneity of liver and adipose tissue macrophages in metabolic diseases.
Team work, curiosity, passion and enthusiasm are the important qualities that I am looking for and found in my lab members.
Laura Levi, PhD, Lab manager
I obtained my masters in industrial biotechnology at the University Federico II of Naples. For two years, I worked as a technician at the research center of Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics in Siena. Next I enrolled in graduate school at Karolinska Institutet; my PhD focused on the connection between chronic infection and cancer development in vitro and in vivo. I joined Dr. Aouadi’s lab in January 2016 and since then I had the opportunity to work in a very dynamic and enthusiastic group. We are always developing unique and novel strategies to understand metabolic diseases. Our goal is to contribute to improving the patients’ quality of life.
As a lab manager, I provide technical and scientific support in all the different projects.
Cecilia Morgantini, MD, PhD, Postdoctoral fellow
Since the beginning of my medical training I had the desire to help people and the passion to understand the causes of their diseases. After a PhD in clinical physiology, driven by the idea to understand more about the molecular mechanism behind metabolic disorders, I joined the laboratory of Dr. Aouadi in 2015. In Aouadi’s lab using unique and sophisticated techniques allowing analysis and manipulation of gene expression at cellular level, I am studying the interaction between immune and metabolic cells. I strongly believe that combining basic research with clinical practice will improve the quality of patients’ care and will help to identify new customized treatments.
Emelie Barreby, PhD student
After obtaining my Master’s degree in Biomedicine at Karolinska Institutet I joined the lab of Myriam Aouadi in 2015, working as a research technician. My interest was to gain experience from working in a lab using state of the art techniques such as RNA-sequencing and targeted gene silencing. During this experience, inspired by Myriam and her research group, I decided to pursue a PhD and register for the doctoral program in 2017. Today, my work involves investigating the phenotype of liver macrophages to better understand their role during the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases by using techniques such as flow cytometry, CyTOF and single cell RNA sequencing.
As part of my doctoral training I also have the benefit of working side-by-side with bioinformaticians in the center to get trained in bioinformatics. In this way, I have had the opportunity to gain knowledge of the whole process from isolating cells and preparing RNA sequencing libraries to actually analyzing the sequencing data myself.
Valerio Azzimato, Postdoc
I obtained my PhD in Pharmacological Sciences from Università Statale di Milano in 2014. My research project focused on epigenetic mechanisms regulating intracellular communication in cardiovascular scenario. In 2015 I joined KI as a junior postdoc in order to investigate the interplay between DNA methylation, molecular pathways and metabolism in heart diseases. In February 2018, I joined Dr. Aouadi’s group in order to study the role(s) of liver macrophages in the regulation of systemic metabolism. In this lab I have the opportunity to use state-of-the-art techniques to investigate the crosstalk between immune and metabolic cells. My aim is to better understand the molecular circuits responsible for the development of metabolic diseases.
Sebastian Nock, Postdoc
I obtained my PhD in 2020 from the University of Lübeck where I identified new biomarkers for thyroid hormone disorders in a translational approach. In this context I investigated the role of thyroid hormones and their contribution to the functions of liver-resident macrophages. I joined the group of Myriam Aouadi, to identify and characterize macrophage populations that are involved in the progression of obesity-induced comorbidities in the liver and decipher underlying mechanisms to contribute to prospective therapeutic approaches. In this group I can draw on experience with state-of-the-art technologies like single cell RNA sequencing, liver spheroids and sophisticated bioinformatic tools and the tight connection of clinical and pre-clinical trials that allow me to directly translate findings into the clinical context.
Ping Chen, Postdoc
As a computational biologist, I am keen in translating data science to medical research. I obtained my PhD in medicine from University of Helsinki in 2016. My research was using system biology approaches to study the transcriptome dynamics during the evolution and treatment resistance in cancer. In 2017, I joined Professor Rickard Sandberg’s group as a junior postdoc. My research projects focused on single cell data analysis and computational method development on various metabolic tissues in collaboration with different metabolic groups from Integrated Cardio-Metabolic Center at Karolinska institute. During the collaborations, I got very interested in the field of metabolism and was eager to continue my research on metabolic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. In 2020, I got the opportunity to join Dr. Myriam Aouadi’s research group as a senior postdoc with my today’s aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that drive the transcriptomic dysregulation in human metabolic diseases using system biology approaches.
Ana Vankova, Lab technician
After finishing my Bachelor in Chemistry – Analytical Biochemistry, I decided to persue my passion for medical research.
I obtained a Master of Science – Molecular Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. During my masters I worked on determening the impact of NEIL3 on neuronal maturation and organization in the hippocampal formation and the medial enthorinal cortex.
In June 2020 I joined Dr. Aouadi’s lab as a laboratory technitian where I have the opportunity to work in a positive, challenging and collaborative enviroment . My current goal is to help with the progress of the lab in understanding the role of the immune system in the development of metabolic diseases while learning and developing my laboratory skills.
In the future I would like to continue my academic studies in Dr. Aouadi’s lab.
Achilleas Fardellas, PhD student
I obtained the M.Pharm. at the University of Patras and M.Sc. in Toxicology at Karolinska Institutet before joining the R&D Graduate programme at AstraZeneca – a two-year talent programme comprised of three different eight-month placements across the R&D organisation. Throughout my academic and industrial experience, my main research focus was how we can employ human relevant in vitro systems such as 3D liver organoids as well as system biology approaches to model and decipher the complex pathophysiology behind metabolic diseases. I joined Dr. Aouadi’s multi-cultural and inspiring group in October 2020 to pursue my doctoral studies. My ambition here is to dissect how RNA editing processes in macrophages regulate insulin resistance and contribute to NASH progression by combining state-of-the-art in vitro, in vivo and in silico techniques.