Postdoctoral Researcher, Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Consiglio received the Michelson Prize: Next Generation Grant for: “Investigating the effects of testosterone on the human immune system.”
Dr. Consiglio’s research provides a novel approach to understanding differences in human immune responses between sexes by studying a unique cohort of people: individuals undergoing sex-reassignment therapy with sex hormone treatment. Her research will offer important insights on the sex-differences in immune responses and help optimize vaccine strategies and immunomodulatory therapies.
Dr. Consiglio studied Genetics and Molecular Biology at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2020, she received her Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbiology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY. Dr. Consiglio is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Petter Brodin’s laboratory at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
What drew you to the field of immunology?
I always found it fascinating that we have an immune system that protects us from microbes. Initially, I wanted to focus my studies on genetics to understand why some people are more susceptible to diseases than others. But as I started studying the field of immunogenetics, I soon became intrigued by how the immune system is deeply connected to many other systems in the body, and how immune cells are often implicated in diseases, such as in autoimmunity, infections, and cancer. I decided to study immunology because I was interested in investigating ways to modulate one’s immune system, almost like turning an immune rheostat, to perhaps one day help develop therapies that treat immune-mediated diseases.
Can you share a defining moment in your work as a researcher?
I don’t have one major defining moment in my work, but rather a collection of moments and decisions that have brought me to where I am in my career. But one important moment to me was attending a series of workshops in bioinformatics during my graduate studies. I was already studying immunology, but was really interested in utilizing computational analysis tools to better understand the immune system. That was a turning point in my career. Pursuing that path led me to where I am now, which involved studying the human immune system with state-of-the-art computational methods.
How will the Michelson Prize help you with your future research and career?
We currently know that males and females have differences in disease susceptibility and severity, and that the immune system can function differently between the sexes. The Michelson Prize will help me dive deeper and investigate how such differences arise in humans. This is a great opportunity for me to pursue questions that have long intrigued me: I will investigate how testosterone affects the human immune system – including its cells, proteins, and RNA – using very advanced techniques/methodologies and computational methods. I am excited to pursue this project and help advance our knowledge of how sex hormones impact the human immune function to pave the way towards both, designing novel immunomodulatory therapies and taking biological sex into account for prevention and treatment.