The University of Freiburg biologist conducts cancer research on immunotherapies using T cells.
Dr. Susana Minguet García will receive a Heisenberg Professorship from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for Synthetic Immunology on April 1, 2023. The Professorship is based at the Faculty of Biology at the University of Freiburg. The DFG is also providing around 400,000 Euros in funding for her research into understanding the mechanisms that regulate the activation of T cells. Minguet García is planning to apply this knowledge to contribute to the development of new immunotherapies against cancer and other therapeutic approaches to treat autoimmune diseases and immunopathologies. The DFG funding of the Heisenberg Professorship runs for up to five years and, after a positive interim review, is linked to a permanent professorship at the Faculty of Biology.
Insights into T cell activation
T cells are crucial for eliciting an adaptive immune response. This type of immune cells carries T cell receptors (TCR) on their surface, through which they recognize pathogens and tumors. However, it is still not fully understood how this receptor transmits signals across the cell membrane to activate the T cell. Minguet García’s work has provided novel paradigms of how the TCR transmits the information that a pathogen or tumor cell has been recognized into biochemical signals that elicit a T cell response.
"My research goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms of T cell activation," says Minguet García. "I’m interested in combining basic immunological research with clinical challenges to translate the findings into medical treatments for cancer." To this end, her research group at the Faculty of Biology combines molecular immunology, synthetic immunology and cancer research.
Minguet García studied chemistry at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, where she received her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology. She then worked at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, among other places. Since 2011, she has been conducting research at the University of Freiburg, where she habilitated in immunology in 2018.
Minguet García is a member of the Cluster of Excellence CIBSS - Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies and BIOSS - Centre for Biological Signalling Studies at the University of Freiburg, and of the Center for Chronic Immunodeficiency (CCI) of the University Hospital Freiburg. She also works in the Collaborative Research Centers (SFB) 1160 Immune-Mediated Pathology as a Result of Disturbed Immune Responses (IMPATH) and 1479 OncoEscape - Oncogene-Driven Immune Escape (OncoEscape) at the University of Freiburg. Furthermore, she is a board member of the Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM) of the University of Freiburg. In 2021, she received the Novartis Prize for therapy-related immunological research from the German Society of Immunology.