Published: 2018-10-08 10:13 | Updated: 2018-10-08 10:14

Jenny Mjösberg is awarded a European research prize in immunology

Jenny Mjösberg. Foto: Stefan ZimmermanYou have recently been awarded a European research prize in immunology. Can you tell us more about the price?

– The Ita Askonas Award is a European award to a female group leader with an outstanding track record of achievements in immunology. It is awarded every third year and this time it was shared between me and Professor Katja Simon, Oxford. The award consists of a cash prize of 10 000 euros and fully covered attendance to the European Congress of Immunology in Amsterdam in September 2018, where the award ceremony took place, says Jenny Mjösberg, Center for Infectious Medicine.

Your research focus is “The discovery and characterization of human ILC2” - What does that mean?

– When I was a postdoc in Hergen Spits’ lab in Amsterdam I discovered and made the initial characterization of a novel population of innate lymphocytes producing type 2 cytokines such as IL-5 and IL-13. I showed that these cells are regulated by a particular transcription factor, GATA3, and that they are enriched in a particular type 2 inflammation, chronic rhinosinusitis. This became the starting point for a whole new field of research. Since I arrived at KI, my group has continued to explore the role for ILC2 in type 2 immunity and revealed several novel regulatory mechanisms which can be targeted in the development of new or improved therapies for allergy and asthma.

How will that discovery be used in research on immunological diseases?

– Although my initial discoveries concerned ILC2, my group’s work at KI has been focused on understanding the role also for other ILC subsets in intestinal inflammation and cancer. Our discoveries, together with the work from many other research groups in this field, has added a new family of immune cells to the immunological text books. Hence, we all now have to consider these cells as significant players when we study the immune system in health and disease.

How was your interest in immunology born?

– Fitting with this price, my path to becoming an immunology researcher has been guided by inspiring and incredibly knowledgeable women (and some very great men too!). I had a great biology teacher in high school and she was good at explaining the cool things about the immune system. Later on at university I had a superb immunology teacher, who really knew what she was talking about. My PhD supervisor and co-supervisors really opened up the world of immunology for me, and made me realize that immunology is everything and everywhere…

Ita Askonas Award
The prize was established by EFIS and the European Journal of Immunology (EJI) to acknowledge female group leaders in immunology who have run an independent laboratory for a minimum of four and no more than eight years. Ita Askonas Award