PhD positions




Prof. Julia Esser-von Bieren
Department of Immunobiology
Université de Lausanne (UNIL)
Chemin des Boveresses 155
CH-1066 Epalinges

Our research interests:

Our group studies innate effector mechanisms of allergy, asthma and helminth infection. The team is particularly interested in uncovering the roles of eicosanoid lipid mediators and macrophages in type 2 immune responses in asthma, nasal polyposis and helminth infection. A particular focus is the identification and characterization of helminth molecules that regulate type 2 inflammatory diseases. As a second major aim, the team studies innate memory responses as a mechanism of chronic airway diseases. Ultimately, our team’s research is aimed at contributing to new therapeutic strategies to treat chronic airway inflammation.

Recent publications:

  1. Hartung F and Esser-von Bieren J (2022). Trained immunity in type 2 immune responses. Mucosal Immunol, Review, in press
  2. Lechner A, Henkel FDR, Hartung F, Bohnacker S, Angioni C., Schreiber Y., Alessandrini F., Haimerl P., Ge Y., Thomas D., Kabat A., Pearce E.J., Ohnmacht C., Murray P.J., Chaker A.M., Schmidt-Weber C.B., Esser-von Bieren J (2022). Macrophages acquire a TNF-dependent inflammatory memory in allergic asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol., S0091-6749(21)02741-X
  3. Bohnacker S, Hartung F, Henkel, FDR, Quaranta A, Kolmert J, Priller A, Ud-Dean M, Giglberger J, Kugler LM, Pechtold L, Yazici S, Lechner A, Erber J, Protzer U, Lingor P, Knolle P, Chaker AM, Schmidt-Weber CB, Wheelock CE, Esser-von Bieren J (2022). Mild COVID-19 imprints a long-term inflammatory eicosanoid- and chemokine memory in monocyte-derived macrophages. Mucosal Immunol., 15(3):515-524.
  4. Henkel FDR, Esser-von Bieren J. (2022) Not just "leuko" after all: Epithelial leukotriene production in type 2 immunity, Sci Immunol., 7(67):eabn4876., Review
  5. Haimerl P, Bernhard U, Schindela S, Henkel FDR, Lechner A, Zissler UM, Pastor X, Thomas D, Cécil A, Ge Y, Haid M, Prehn C, Tokarz J, Heinig M, Adamski J, Schmidt-Weber CB, Chaker AM, Esser-von Bieren J (2021). Inflammatory macrophage memory in NSAID-exacerbated respiratory disease. J Allergy Clin Immunol., 147(2):587-599.
  6. de Los Reyes Jiménez M, Lechner A, Alessandrini F, Schindela S, Trompette A, Haimerl P, Thomas D, Haslbeck M, Henkel FDR, Prazeres da Costa C, Feige MJ, Chaker AM, Dehne N, Brüne B, Nüsing R, Nockher WA, Ohnmacht C, Marsland BJ, Harris NL, Schmidt-Weber CB, Esser-von Bieren J (2020). An anti-inflammatory eicosanoid switch mediates the suppression of type-2 inflammation by helminth larval products. Science Translational Medicine, 12(540)

PhD projects:

Background: We have recently uncovered an inflammatory metabolic and epigenetic reprogramming of macrophages in patients suffering from asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP). Our results show that this “trained type 2 immunity” program is distinct from classical trained immunity in bacterial or fungal infections.

However, the functions, longevity and mechanisms of “trained type 2 immunity” programs remain poorly defined. In the proposed PhD projects we aim to establish an unprecedented functional and mechanistic framework of innate memory responses in type 2 immunity.

In project 1, we aim to define roles of leukotrienes in trained type 2 immunity: The functions of leukotrienes, which are key inflammatory mediators of asthma, in type 2 specific reprogramming of resident and recruited macrophages will be studied using adoptive transfer experiments or conditional knock-out mice. The crosstalk of leukotriene source and target cells in training of macrophage progenitors will be visualized by novel bone marrow imaging methods.

In project 2, we aim to define the stability and functions of innate memory responses in distinct settings of type 2 immunity: The impact of type 2 training induced by allergens or helminth molecules on type 2 inflammation or anti-helminth host defense will be studied in vivo, e.g. by using adoptive transfer experiments. The stability and longevity of trained cells in the tissue (lung or gut) will be defined by ATAC-Seq, RNA-Seq and metabolomics.

PhD student profile:

• Interest in immune regulation, innate immunity and inflammation

• Interest in work with genetically modified animal models

• Interest in work with patient material and collaboration with clinicians

• Strong background in immunology and molecular biology

• Curious, driven by the need to understand, and goal-oriented

• Good team spirit



Ch. des Boveresses 155 - CP 51 - CH-1066 Epalinges
Tel. +41 21 692 57 00
Fax +41 21 692 57 05