PhD Prize 2017 of the DGI and DZIF for Shuting Xu
Dr. Shuting Xu was awarded the Dissertation Prize 2017 of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF)/German Society of Infectious Diseases (DGI). She obtained the award for her excellent achievements during her doctoral studies in the research group “Innate Immunity and Viral Evasion” headed by Jun.-Prof. Christine Goffinet. The DGI awarded the prize September 29th, during the Joint Annual Meeting of DGI and DZIF in Hamburg.
During her PhD, Shuting Xu investigated how HIV is able to counteract cell-intrinsic alarm systems that normally alert the human system of the infection. Together with Christine Goffinet´s team at the Institute of Experimental Virology at TWINCORE, she explored how different immune cells co-work in the defense against HIV. She and colleagues identified T-cells being capable of building membrane fusion tunnels to macrophages which allow the transfer of a second messenger, leading to efficient activation of antiviral signaling pathways. These findings were published in “Cell Host & Microbe”.
HIV has probably developed strategies to counteract this defense mechanism. However, these insights are pioneering – immune cells probably cooperate also in the context of other viral infections. This work may pave the way towards strategies aiming at preventing or treating viral infections.