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  • 1 May 2021 to 31 December 2021
  • Awards: Pump-priming Awards

In the Monaco group, we aim to build an interactive immune cell atlas of the vascular tissue in both health in disease. Our scRNAseq data in human atherosclerotic plaque, is to this date, the most extensive database of the immune cell landscape in atherosclerosis allowing us to identify all the immune cell subsets relevant to the disease and their transcriptional signature. During her ongoing PhD work, Suzanne Engelen, MD, developed her own research interest on how antigen presenting cells (APC) in the plaque start an immune response by presenting lipid antigens to Natural Killer T (NKT) cells and worsening atherogenesis.

Suzanne aims to identify the location, phenotype and interactive network of the immune cells in general and NKT cells in particular within the vascular tissue by providing a spatial definition of these cells using Imaging Mass Cytometry (Hyperion) technology. Hyperion couples imaging capability to mass cytometry technology, allowing the simultaneous use of 37 metal ion-labelling antibodies overcoming the issues of auto-fluorescence and spectral overlap while preserving tissue architecture. The Hyperion platform will provide information on cell phenotypes, their localisation within the tissue and their cellular interactions to help us further understand the immune response in CVD tissues.