Saskia Hemmers
Assistant Professor in Immunology

My lab will address how complex tissue cues are integrated and imprinted resulting in functionally distinct T cells. The two settings we are focused on are the integration of developmental cues during early perinatal life and of pathological cues associated with tissue-damage in settings of neuro-inflammation and neuronal damage induced pain.

What is so special about early perinatal life? It is a period of rapid growth, high cell turnover and major tissue remodeling. This coincides with the rapid seeding and expansion of T cells in secondary lymphoid organs and tissues. We have evidence that perinatally derived regulatory T cells occupy specialized niches that are established early in life and persist into adulthood, and we propose that they serve specialized tissue-supportive functions that cannot be easily replaced by their adult-derived counterparts. Therefore, disruption of this early life niche formation by infection might lead to an irreplaceable loss of those cells and might increase the susceptibility of the animal to severe end organ damage in adulthood.

Our other major research interest is to better understand how pathological cues associated with neuroinflammation and neuronal damage induced pain are integrated by T cells and direct their function. Previously I explored the role of sensors of tissue damage on regulatory T cells with a particular focus on IL-1R family members. I uncovered a novel circuit of IL-33 sensing by Treg cells that was required to dampen disease severity in a model of neuroinflammation in the CNS. My lab will expand on this work utilizing novel mouse strains to explore the specific contributions of other IL-1R family members in the setting of neuroinflammation in the CNS and apply those same genetic tools to neuronal damage associated manifestations of pain in the peripheral nervous system.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 207 Research Drive, Box 3010, Durham, NC 27710
  • 207 Research Drive, Room 112, Durham, NC 27710

Some information on this profile has been compiled automatically from Duke databases and external sources. (Our About page explains how this works.) If you see a problem with the information, please write to Scholars@Duke and let us know. We will reply promptly.