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Visiting researcher: Professor Patrizia Stoitzner

3 November 2022

The Malaghan Institute recently welcomed Professor Patrizia Stoitzner from the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria as part of our visiting speaker programme. The programme, which invites world-leading experts to the Institute to present on their research in immunology and biomedical science, is an opportunity for Malaghan researchers and speakers to share skills and expertise – the backbone of cutting-edge science and collaboration.

Prof Stoitzner shares an extra special connection to the Malaghan, having come to New Zealand in 2005 to work as a postdoctoral research fellow with Professor Franca Ronchese.

“It’s so fantastic to see how much the institute has grown since my postdoc time especially in regards to acquisition of ground-breaking technology,” says Prof Stoitzner.

Back home, Prof Stoitzner’s research centres on using dendritic cells, a key immune cell type, as a mechanism for novel immunotherapies targeting a range of different diseases – thanks in part to the cell’s remarkable ability to activate immune responses.

“The hallmark of dendritic cells is their potent and outstanding capacity to activate naive resting T-cells. As such, dendritic cells are regarded as the ‘sentinels of the immune system’ and instrumental for inducing immune responses. This is one of the reasons why dendritic cells have a focus of immunotherapeutical strategies to fight infection, cancer and autoimmunity,” says Prof Stoitzner.

Prof Stoitzner credits her time at the Malaghan Institute as a big influence in choosing her field of study.

“My time at the Malaghan really kicked off my interest in tumour immunology because until then I hadn’t worked in that area before, and with Franca’s tumour immunisation models I got really interested to bring my dendritic cell expertise into the tumor immunology field.”