SCIENTIST PORTRAIT. Davide Angeletti is an associate senior lecturer at the Institute of Biomedicine, University of Gothenburg. Davide´s work aims at defining the basic immunological mechanisms of antibody and B cell responses as an essential step towards an effective universal vaccination. Niclas Lundh, administrative coordinator at the institute, has met him.
During my Master I became very interested in malaria research. I did two projects, one at Karolinska Institute and one at the University of Sydney, looking at different aspects of malaria pathogenesis. During my PhD I studied specificity and function of mono- and polyclonal antibodies to specific surface proteins of the parasite. After my PhD, I wanted to expand my views and investigate the general functions of cells that produce antibodies (B-cells). I was lucky to find a postdoc position in the laboratory of Dr. Jon Yewdell at NIH, USA. Jon´s lab is an amazing creative environment where the research spans from virology to biochemistry, immunology, and cell biology. I was afforded a lot of independence and was lucky to come into the laboratory at the right time, when many new methods became available. I learned a lot about how B-cells behave during viral infections, how they differentiate and combat infections.
Fundamentally, we are interested in understanding all steps of B-cell differentiation after viral infection. In mammals, B-cells, are a central player in the response to infections and the prevention of re-infections (with the same virus). Respiratory viruses, such as Influenza A virus or COVID-19, infect via airways. Therefore, the assumption is that some B-cells would form and stay in the airways and thus be able to rapidly protect in case a re-infection occur. We want to investigate if that is the case and to understand the molecular processes behind it. Also, we want to examine what happens if a second infection with another slightly different virus take place.
Beside the basic research, we collaborate with a protein design lab to develop and test new vaccines which will be delivered in the airways.
Overall, what I am most excited about is doing good science which could lead to the discovery of novel vaccines. I hope to provide important discoveries in the field of viral and mucosal immunology, which may lead to an impactful product.
Really, I don´t know. I have not always been fascinated with science, however, I always liked math and was considering becoming an engineer at some point. Honestly, I can´t remember exactly why I chose to study biology back in Italy. It was in Sweden, at the Master program I started to appreciate the creativeness a scientist utilize. Designing and executing an experiment requires many skills, and often, the results are not what you expected, and that is the most enjoyable thing for me about research since it forces you to revisit your ideas. It is a constant challenge and one day is never identical to another.
Science is collaboration, and without collaborations one wouldn´t be able to compete and survive in today´s scientific environment. Nowadays, studies are much more extensive than twenty years ago and require expertise from several topics. For me, it is unthinkable to perform these in isolation.
Since starting my lab at the University of Gothenburg, I have established several collaborations, mostly within immunology but also in the fields of nuclear RNA interference and lung cancer,
We have clinical collaborations at Sahlgrenska University Hospital with groups working with COVID-19, tumor biology and otolaryngology.
Nationally, we collaborate with Karolinska Institute, Lund University and Stockholm University on questions regarding several aspects of B-cell biology and to establish a platform to map polyclonal antibody specificity via electron microscopy.
We have strong international collaborations on influenza vaccines with EPFL Lausanne (Switzerland) and the University of Oslo (Norway).
Finally, we are working on new mucosal vaccines and delivery methods with Chalmers Univerrsity; here the idea is to eventually form a company to commercialize the inventions.
BY: NICLAS LUNDH