Speaker: Dr Cristina Lo Celso, Imperial College London.
Title: "Healthy and malignant haematopoiesis in the bone marrow: dynamic cells in an evolving environment".
Abstract: Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) sustain the turnover of all our immune cells, red blood cells and platelets throughout our lives. Their output is adjusted depending on demand, for example emergency granulopoiesis has been described as a result of infections, and healthy haematopoiesis is lost as a consequence of leukaemia growth. HSC function depends on their ability to self-renew and differentiate in a balanced manner, and is regulated by complex and dynamic interactions with stroma and haematopoietic cells that surround them in the bone marrow, collectively known as the HSC niche. Despite an ever growing number of studies, we still understand little about the nature of the HSC niche, whether there are multiple types of niches with specific functions, or whether there may not be a physical niche at all. My research group has been studying how HSCs interact with multiple components of the bone marrow microenvironment and how these interactions change at time of stress, may this be infection, leukaemia development or bone marrow transplantation. We take advantage of an interdisciplinary approach combining intravital microscopy of mouse bone marrow, quantitative image analysis, in vivo and ex vivo assays and mathematical modelling to understand the cellular and molecular dynamics driving healthy and malignant haematopoiesis, with the view of identifying suitable targets to develop improved therapies and preventative approaches for haematological disease, especially leukaemia and infection-driven HSC exhaustion. Through these studies, the bone marrow microenvironment has been emerging as a novel and promising therapeutic target for strategies aimed at supporting and improving HSC fitness.
Bio: Dr Lo Celso graduated from Torino University in Italy. She obtained her PhD from UCL, working with Fiona Watt at the CRUK London Research Institute, where she studied epidermal stem cells. She started performing intravital microscopy of the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche during her postdoctoral training at Harvard University with David Scadden. In 2009 she started her independent research group at Imperial College London, where she is now a reader in the department of Life Sciences, and network lead of the Imperial Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Network. Dr Lo Celso recently established a satellite laboratory at the Sir Francis Crick Institute. Her research aims to understand the mechanisms regulating HSC function during steady state and during stress, such as infections, leukaemia and transplantation. Her interdisciplinary approach combines mouse bone marrow intravital microscopy techniques, computational image analysis, molecular profiling and mathematical modelling of the HSC niche. Dr Lo Celso is the first woman to receive the Foulkes Medal award (2017), received the ISEH New Investigator award in 2017, and presented the DGZ Carl Zeiss Lecture 2018.