Doctor Eduardo Pérez from the NANOMOL Group at ICMAB defended his PhD thesis entitled "3D Systems for immune cells culture and their applications in Immunotherapy" and supervised by Imma Ratera and Judith Guasch, on Thursday, 2 April 2020, at 11 am from home!
Due to the confinement, the UAB Doctoral School allowed to defend the PhD Thesis from home, by videoconference, and with one legal representative from the UAB at the defense. Thank you to the PhD Committee for adapting to the new situation. Congratulations Eduardo!
Why did you choose the ICMAB for your PhD?
Here they offered me a project of my interest, closely related with my previous experience and with a lot of potential and possible applications.
How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?
My research consists in the improvement of current immunotherapies. Nowadays, one of the limiting steps is the obtention of enough treated cells for the application of this treatment. With the objective of improving this phase of the therapy and increase the number of obtained cells we studied different materials which could be applied as a 3D scaffold for the culture of immune cells. Mimicking the natural conditions of cells in the body instead of culture them in a plastic surface has shown to improve the expansion and quality of the resulting immune cells.
What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?
The material that we have optimize is a hydrogel which principal studied application is its use as a 3D platform for the mimicking of the extra cellular matrix of lymph nodes, improving the expansion of CD4+ T cells and tuning the resulting phenotypes. However, it has potential for other applications such as immune cell delivery, or model for the study of the effect of different chemical stimuli with immune cells.
From the lessons learnt here, which one do you value the most?
All the knowledge acquired about the immune system and the importance of the evolution from 2D to 3D systems, and the experience of working in a biological lab learning its special requirements and safety measurements.
What will you miss the most from ICMAB?
All my partners that made my stay in the ICMAB unforgettable.
How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future?
In my opinion my experience during my PhD has helped me to develop my problem‑solving capacities together with my patient, and methodology, which are abilities that for sure helps me in the future.
What are your plans once you finish your PhD?
By the moment my grant assures me another year working in the same center as a postdoc. After that I will study all the possibilities according with my interests, but I would like to keep investigating.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD, that now you can recommend to the ones who are starting?
The importance of assume that in science you will have good and bad results, and that you need to be very strong and constant in order to don’t let the bad moments affect you and always keep working.
Why did you become a scientist? Which have been your role models?
Since I was a kid, I always loved the idea of being a scientist in order to face the unknown, looking for solutions, and making experiments. My role models are related with the field of music, specifically one teacher I had at high school and my violin teacher of the conservatory. They had nothing to do with science, but they teach me how to fight for the things I wanted and put all the passion in my work.
Which is your favourite female scientist?
Alexandra Elbakyan, because of her website Sci-Hub which makes possible to work in science to people that don’t provide of a lot of resources.
Describe in 3 keywords…
* Your research: Immunotherapy, hydrogel, 3D.
* Barcelona: Beautiful, freedom, beach.
* Your experience at ICMAB: Work, friends, experience.
by Eduardo Pérez, NANOMOL Group, ICMAB-CSIC
Date: Thursday, 2 April 2020
Time: 11 am
Abstract: Recent achievements in the field of immunotherapy, such as the development of engineered T cells used in adoptive cell therapy, are introducing more efficient strategies to combat cancer. Nevertheless, these T cells are challenging to manufacture, manipulate, and control. Specifically, there are limitations in producing the large amounts of T cells needed for these therapies in a short period of time and in an economically viable manner. In this thesis, we have studied different 3D systems with the objective of achieving higher proliferation rates and tune the resulting phenotypes, resembling the natural environment of the secondary lymphoid organs.