New CeMM Principal Investigator Clarissa Campbell
On 1 July 2021, Clarissa Campbell joins CeMM, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, as new Principal Investigator. She focuses on intestinal pathogens and intestinal immune homeostasis, thus strengthening CeMM’s core expertise in the fields of immunity and metabolism.
Clarissa Campbell studied biology with a minor in genetics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and subsequently earned a master’s degree from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) investigating how bacterial molecules exert immunomodulatory effects on mammalian cells via nuclear receptors, a topic she would continue to explore throughout her career. She joined the Tri-Institutional Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York as a graduate student where she specialized in mucosal immunology and regulatory T (Treg) cell biology. After obtaining her PhD, Clarissa remained under the mentorship of Dr. Alexander Rudensky at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York) to continue her work on host- commensal interactions and pursue broader scientific questions bridging the fields of immunology and metabolism. Her research has characterized a circuit whereby microbial metabolites including short-chain fatty acids and secondary bile acids facilitate the differentiation of peripherally induced Treg cells, which in turn suppress immune responses to colonization and preserve a niche for a group of intestinal bacteria. More recently, she found that a bile acid-sensing nuclear receptor contributes to the cell-intrinsic responsiveness of effector T cells to fasting.
Clarissa Campbell’s laboratory at CeMM will investigate how changes in microbial and organismal metabolism contribute to regulate immune cell function. The group will focus on the intestinal mucosa, where T cells are exposed to a myriad of microbial metabolites and dietary nutrients. They aim at understanding how changes in organismal metabolism that occur as a consequence of gastrointestinal infections impact immune responses. For this purpose, they use gnotobiotic husbandry, engineered bacterial strains, metabolomics and experimental infection to identify novel mechanisms contributing to the regulation of T cell function in physiological settings.
This addition reinforces CeMM’s interdisciplinary nature and commitment to advancing the understanding of human diseases through basic and biomedical research. CeMM gladly welcomes Clarissa into the institute, and looks forward to her scientific breakthroughs and innovative research work.