Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSCA-IF)
From Brazil to Oxford via Switzerland. Mariana's first steps as an immunologist started in Brazil while studying antimicrobial responses in shrimps and oysters during her BSc studies (2005-2010), for which she was awarded the University Medal. She then jumped into a completely new field, and dedicated her Master studies (2010-2012) to understand how the unfolded protein response in lymphocytes and monocytes is impacted by HIV infection and antiretroviral therapies. Close to completing her studies in the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), she got a permanent position as a lecturer in the same institution, where she taught Biology for 3 years.
To pursue a career as a scientist, she gave up the life-long stability of her job, and moved to Switzerland, where she did her PhD in Immunology at ETH, under the supervision of Prof. Annette Oxenius. There Mariana was very successful to bring new insights into how asymmetric cell division, a very conserved mechanism to generate diversity, impacts T cell fate as a requirement for the establishment of memory. She was the first to describe that effector and terminally exhausted CD8+ T cells lose their ability to undergo asymmetric mitoses, showing that asymmetric cell division is a feature of cells that retain stemness. Beyond that, she developed a strategy to boost asymmetric cell division in CD8+ T cells by transient inhibition of mTOR, which proved to be highly efficient to benefit memory formation - a potential new translational strategy to improve immune responses, especially in the context of chronic infections, tumours and ageing. For her PhD work, she was awarded the prestigious ETH Silver Medal.
Now in Oxford, Mariana joined the group of Prof. Katja Simon, and will use her previous expertise in the boundary between cell biology and immunology to further investigate how autophagy impacts the balance between stemness and differentiation in immunity and haematopoiesis. To develop this work, she was awarded fellowships from the Swiss National Science Foundation, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and Wellcome Trust.
Asymmetric cell division shapes naive and virtual memory T-cell immunity during ageing.
Borsa M. et al, (2021), Nat Commun, 12
Borsa M. and Simon AK., (2020), Science, 369, 373 - 374
Modulation of asymmetric cell division as a mechanism to boost CD8+ T cell memory.
Borsa M. et al, (2019), Sci Immunol, 4
Chronic virus infection compromises memory bystander T cell function in an IL-6/STAT1-dependent manner.
Barnstorf I. et al, (2019), J Exp Med, 216, 571 - 586