Dr. Sophie Janssens received her Master in Biology at the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and her PhD in Sciences at the University of Ghent (2003), where she studied the role of MyD88 in innate immune signalling. She went for her postdoc to the lab of Prof. J. Tschopp at the University of Lausanne (2005) to work on the PIDDosome, a complex involved in cell fate decisions upon DNA damage. After a second postdoc in a Peripheral Neuropathy Group at the University of Antwerp, she became Full Professor at the University of Ghent to coordinate a novel research line on ER stress and inflammation (2011).
Her research team focuses on the role of the unfolded protein response in immune cells. They discovered that amongst all immune cells in our body, one subset of conventional dendritic cells (DC), the cDC1s, shows a particular high activation of the IRE1/XBP1 branch in steady state. This does not lead to the activation of a canonical XBP1 gene signature, but appears linked to their specific cross-presentation function. The Janssens lab is currently further unraveling how the IRE1alpha branch in DCs shapes their immune responses, both in steady state as well as during viral infections.