fourth year PhD
Francis Crick Institute and University College London, UK
Justina Kulikauskaite is a fourth year PhD student in the Immunoregulation lab of Dr. Andreas Wack at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London. Her graduate research focuses on alveolar macrophages in the lung, their functions at the steady state and during and after infection. Specifically, she is interested in a new population of monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages found at the complete resolution of influenza infection (day 28). Compared to their tissue-resident counterparts of embryonic origin, these monocyte-derived macrophages exhibit a more immunoreactive phenotype upon bacterial stimulus, evident by their distinct chromatin landscape, upregulated genes enriched in the immune response pathways, and elevated production of various cytokines. Justina and her co-authors study factors contributing to the enhanced immunoreactivity of monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages (observed at 1 month post flu), as well as how the lung environment shapes alveolar macrophages into a hyporeactive state (found at 2 and 4 months post flu), affecting lung immune status and the outcome of subsequent infections.
Before moving to the Francis Crick Institute in London, Justina was awarded Japanese government MEXT scholarship for her bachelor’s and master’s studies at Kanazawa University, where she worked on transcriptional regulation of circadian genes.