who we are

Early Stage Researchers

E. Omar Chuquisana

What is your project/research about?

Neutrophils (PMN) are the first cell type recruited to the brain after ischemic stroke therefore considered as the main effectors of neuronal death. However, work from our lab has shown that the majority of the PMNs remain in the lumen of large blood vessels or are associated with the cellular and basement membrane layers of the vessel wall and do not gain direct contact with neurons. Our aim is to investigate how PMN signals are relayed from the vessel wall to the neurons. In peripheral tissues neutrophil interaction with endothelial adhesion molecules, I-CAM1 and V-CAM1, via integrins LFA-1 (aL2) and 41, respectively, have been shown to be important for neutrophil adhesion and extravasation. However, investigation of these molecular process in ischemic stroke has produced varying results and clinical trials targeting these molecules have had little or no success. Indeed, the precise in vivo localization of both endothelial adhesion molecules and ß2 integrins after ischemic stroke have not been systematically investigated. We here address the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules and ß2 integrin expressing immune cells in vivo after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO) and 24h reperfusion in mice, and address the role of ß2-integrin in neutrophil adhesion and/or localization to the vessel wall through the use of an integrin ß2 null mouse (CD18-/-). CD18-/- mice show no significant difference in the neurological outcome and the lesion size compared to WT littermates. Flow cytometry also revealed no differences in the extent of neutrophil infiltration, despite significantly elevated numbers of circulating neutrophils in CD18-/- mice, while in vivo analyses show similar localization of PMNs in the cerebral vasculature. Our data suggest that ß2 integrins are not essential for neutrophil adhesion to the cerebral endothelium or their localization at other sites in the vessel wall after ischemic stroke. RNA sequencing data from ischemic cerebral endothelial cells suggest the involvement of novel adhesion molecules.

Why did you apply for a Marie Curie ITN and especially this project?

Marie Curie ITN is not only a high level and prestigious doctoral programme but also gives the opportunity to belong a competitive network of scientific sources. The tools that we have available include great facilities (laboratories and companies) around Europe for improving and learning approaches for the aims of the projects. The network also help us to develop new scientific and friendly bonds with other doctoral fellows that work in similar subjects, exchange experience and techniques.

The scientific curiosity always lead you to look for the best options to unveil the missing pieces of a puzzle, in my case the nEUROinflammation network accurately fitted my expectations since I started in my project in Germany, it has been the best experience not only scientifically but also personally because I got the opportunity to develop my own ideas under an excellent supervision and great environment.

What is so fascinating for you on research in general?

Definitely the challenge of unveil something new or unknown and the search for a scientific explanation are the two things that drive me and feed my desire for continuing doing research. Finally, the idea that what we do will contribute, in long term, to improve the quality of life of patients.

What do you do in your free time?

As a kid/teenager I grew up playing all sports possible but then only soccer caught my attention until now, also playing the guitar, travelling and photography.

What are your plans for your future?

In a near future I would like to be part of a competitive scientific environment and with time settle into a topic of my interest and develop my career around it.

Regarding our meetings:

Please give a short summary what you remember about are Network Meetings?

The first meeting for me was in Italy (Brescia) was for me very interesting and new experience, knowing the other fellow students and listening their work. We had seminars/talks about specific topics but also techniques/methods to learn about. During the next meetings, we had sessions to improve our skills (good scientific practices, speech training, scientific writing, statistics, authorship/publication) and helped me to see beyond the lab work.

What are the impressions and learnings you take with you from each meeting?

Suggestions and positive feedback are important after our meetings, the workshops that we have are also very important to shape the way we analyze our data and the best approaches to address a question.

What was the most useful workshop?

I believe “good scientific practices” brings to the table tools that allow us to see that data should be processed in a simple but accurate manner. Also, we realized the “mistakes” that we can make in a scientific paper, when presenting or analyzing data.

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