In my work, I use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to study pathogen defense mechanisms and the impact of the microbiota on pathogen defenses. The work with C. elegans has, amongst others, the big advantage that it is easy to genetically manipulate the worm, e.g. to generate mutants and transgenic animals and to turn off genes using RNAi. Because of these powerful genetic tools available, C. elegans is a highly efficient model for the study of host-pathogen and host-microbe interactions. Moreover, several immune-related similarities are found between C. elegans and humans, including immunity signaling cascades and also the morphology and function of intestinal cells, which are the site of most infection in the worm; thus, new findings in C. elegans have potential implications for human immunity and disease.
Current research projects: