February 15, 2021

New research groups at CeMM: Barbara Maier, Georg Busslinger and Davide Seruggia

At the beginning of 2021, Barbara Maier, Georg Busslinger and Davide Seruggia joined CeMM, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Barbara Maier as Principal Investigator at CeMM, Georg Busslinger and Davide Seruggia as CeMM Adjunct Principal Investigators, Georg having his main affiliation at the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the Medical University of Vienna and Davide at St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute. The three researchers strengthen CeMM’s expertise in the fields of tumor immunology, gastrointestinal biology and pediatric leukemia biology.

Barbara Maier studied molecular biology at the University of Vienna and obtained her PhD from the Medical University of Vienna, working on deciphering the role of type I interferon in pulmonary inflammation under the mentorship of MedUni Professor and CeMM PI Sylvia Knapp. She then continued her training as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Miriam Merad at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. There, she gained extensive knowledge about human tumor immunology and myeloid components of tumor immune-suppression. Barbara’s laboratory at CeMM focuses on tumor immunology and specifically on the dynamics of antigen-presenting cell/T cell interactions in the tumor microenvironment and how tumor-associated antigen-presenting cell phenotypes shape tumor-directed T cell responses.

Georg Busslinger studied molecular biology at the ETH Zurich and completed his PhD in Jan-Michael Peters’ group at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, where he investigated the molecular mechanisms that control the localization of cohesin in the mammalian genome of non-proliferating cells. For his postdoctoral study, he joined the laboratory of Hans Clevers at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht (The Netherlands), where he became an expert in the field of organoid biology. His work resulted in the molecular definition of epithelia cells of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, as well as the identification of rare cell populations and a novel hormone produced by enterochromaffin-like cells. Additionally, he investigated the cellular and molecular aspects of different stages of Barrett’s esophagus, a common pre-malignant state of esophageal cancer. Georg’s laboratory at the Medical University of Vienna and CeMM focuses on epithelial cell biology of human gastrointestinal organs, and is strongly based on the organoid technology. They aim at gaining a better understanding of the developmental steps of these cells, which will help guide future treatment strategies of variety of diseases including gastritis or Barrett’s esophagus.

Davide Seruggia obtained a degree in Biotechnology at the University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy) in 2010, and a PhD in Molecular Biology at the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC) in Madrid (Spain) in 2014. During his PhD under the supervision of Lluis Montoliu, he focused on non-coding DNA regulatory sequences of pigmentation genes, and generated several mouse lines carrying deletions of selected enhancers. Analysis of these mice highlighted the relevance of non-coding elements in regulating patterns of gene expression. In 2015 he joined the laboratory of Stuart H. Orkin at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he trained in hematology, stem cell biology and genomics. In Boston, Davide used genomics and genome editing to explore the role of epigenetic factors, chromatin modifiers and transcriptional co-activators in the context of mouse embryonic stem cells, and generated a series of mouse models to study how chromatin modifiers control hematopoiesis, erythropoiesis and the expression of globin genes. In 2019, he was promoted to Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and attracted funding from the WES Foundation and Pedals for Pediatrics. In 2020 he awarded an ERC Starting Grant, and started his independent career in 2021, when he joined the St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute as Principal Investigator and CeMM as Adjunct Principal Investigator.

This addition reinforces CeMM’s interdisciplinary nature and commitment to advancing the understanding of human diseases through basic and biomedical research. CeMM gladly welcomes Barbara, Georg and Davide into the institute, and looks forward to their scientific breakthroughs and innovative research work.