Two leading scientists join iReceptor Plus new scientific advisory board

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich

The iReceptor Plus Project has established a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), beginning with two distinguished scientists, one from the US and the other from Sweden – Prof. Steven H. Kleinstein and Prof. Gunilla Karlsson Hedestam – who have generously agreed to take up the position.

Prof. Felix Breden, who is Scientific Director of the iReceptor Plus Consortium, will also serve on the SAB.

The SAB is responsible for reviewing and helping guide the scientific excellence of iReceptor Plus project research and will review proposed research projects for scientific excellence and recommend new avenues for research investment (novel research gaps, opportunities and so on) to the project’s Executive.

The iReceptor Plus SAB will meet on November 20, 2019 with the iReceptor Plus Project Executive as part of the SCAIR and iReceptor Plus meetings in Haifa, Israel. Anyone with ideas or questions for the SAB is invited to contact the project.

Prof. Kleinstein of the School of Medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in the USA is a computational immunologist with a combination of “big data” analysis and immunology domain expertise.

Prof. Steven H. Kleinstein

He is currently a professor in the Department of Pathology and Department of Immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine and a member of the Human and Translational Immunology program, the Yale Center for Medical Informatics and the Interdepartmental Program for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. He received a B.A.S. in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Princeton University.

Prof. Kleinstein’s research interests include both developing new computational methods and applying these methods to study human immune responses. Somatic hypermutation (SHM) and B cell affinity maturation, the core of adaptive immunity, have been a focus of his work, with a major emphasis on large-scale B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire analysis (AIRR-seq).

Professor Kleinstein’s group has developed the Immcantation framework of analysis tools for AIRR-seq data, and was one of the lead scientists developing the MiAIRR standards for curating and sharing AIRR-seq data.

His lab has developed many widely-used computational methods and tools for AIRR-seq analysis, including: (1) pRESTO, a toolkit for pre-processing high-throughput BCR sequencing data, (2) Change-O and SCOPer, a suite of computational methods for advanced analysis of repertoires, including identification of clonally-related sequences, (3) TIgGER, a set of methods for identifying novel V gene alleles and constructing subject-specific genotypes, (4) aLAkazam, a set of methods for lineage tree construction and diversity analysis, and (5) SHazaM, a framework for advanced statistical analysis of SHM patterns, including selection analysis.

These methods are seamlessly integrated and currently made available to the wider scientific community through the Immcantation framework, which provides a start-to-finish analytical ecosystem for AIRR-seq analysis.

Prof. Karlsson Hedestam of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden conducts research in the field of immunology and immunogenetics, with a special focus on B cells.

Prof. Gunilla Karlsson Hedestam

Her group studies how antigen-specific antibodies develop in response to infection and vaccination, as well as in diseases driven by pathogenic antibodies directed against self-tissue.

She is the Principal Investigator of the group developing the analysis tool IgDiscover, designed to discover individual’s complement of immunoglobulin genes. Prof. Hedestam is particularly interested in understanding inter-individual variation in antibody responses, and to what extent the germline gene repertoire influences the development of certain types of responses.

To address this, her group has developed methodologies to study the diversity of immunoglobulin germline genes at an individualized level in humans and other outbred species, as well as approaches to trace the evolution of antigen-specific B cell using a combination of monoclonal antibody isolation and high-throughput, next-generation sequencing technologies.

Prof. Karlsson Hedestam is a member of the Department management board since 2009 and the Deputy Head of the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology since 2013. She was elected to the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet in 2016 and as of 2019, she is a member of the Nobel Committee for the Prize in Medicine or Physiology.

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