Immunologists for the 21st century

Big data analysis for immunologists - Kickoff meeting of the ENLIGHT-TEN programme

The new Marie Curie training network for immunologists ENLIGHT-TEN started on October 9. The aim of the network is to develop an interdisciplinary training for young researchers in T cell immunology…The new Marie Curie training network for immunologists called ENLIGHT-TEN (European Network Linking Informatics and Genomics of Helper T cells) commenced on October 9 with a kickoff meeting of 20 experts from seven European countries. The aim of the network is to develop an interdisciplinary training for young researchers in T cell immunology and big data analysis. The ENLIGHT-TEN programme is coordinated by the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig.

The immune system of our body is characterised by highly complex and extremely dynamic processes which are controlled, to a large extent, by the so-called T helper cells acting as the "conductors of the immune system". They play a central role in many disease processes, such as autoimmunity, chronic infections or tumours, and are therefore expedient targets for new therapies. However, the development of such novel therapeutic concepts requires a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the molecular processes that control the development and mode of action of T helper cells.

This knowledge can be obtained only through the application of modern -omics technologies that currently scientists to investigate the building blocks of life and vital processes at molecular detail. This type of investigation generates huge amounts of data so called “Big Data”, e.g. in the scope of sequence or proteome analyses.  Special expertise in the area of bio-informatics is required to be able to analyse this vast quantity of data.

"We need to train a new generation of scientists who feel equally at home in the very different worlds of molecular medicine and bioinformatics analysis of high throughput data," says Prof Jochen Hühn, who is the head of the Experimental Immunology department at the HZI and the coordinator of the ENLIGHT-TEN network. "We will use this interdisciplinary training programme to train young immunologists to not only generate large data resources, but to also independently analyse the data in detail. This will enable them to test their working hypotheses through big data analyses and to elucidate the development and function of T helper cells at molecular detail."

The ENLIGHT-TEN network offers 13 Marie-Skłodowska-Curie doctoral scholarships to highly motivated junior researchers. A total of 16 partners from eight European countries contribute to the project by integrating the young scientists into their research groups. The immunologists therefore from the very beginning establish networks and learn to find their way in various countries and surroundings, in universities and in industry. In the scope of the ENLIGHT-TEN programme, the HZI in Braunschweig offers doctoral positions in the field of T cell immunology in the working groups of Prof Jochen Hühn or at the TWINCORE Hannover in the Institute of Prof Tim Sparwasser.

The total funds for all partners of ENLIGHT-TEN add up to Euro 3.35 million. A share of approximately Euro 780,000 is earmarked for the HZI. For further information about the network and the partners in the consortium, please visit the website www.enlight-ten.eu.

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