Our Research

The Immune Sensing & Signaling Dynamics group focus on host-microbe interactions and cancer.

The environment, microbiota, infection, diet, stress, and the body’s metabolism shape complex processes in health and disease. However, our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in these processes is still incomplete. Cells are constantly exposed to changes in their microenvironment and have to continuously monitor and adapt to respond to such insults and alterations that might profoundly impact their homeostasis. Multiple cellular sensors have been shown to respond to such insults, including the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AHR).


The AHR is a ligand-activated transcription factor able to sense a wide range of molecular cues, including environmental, dietary, microbial, disease, and drug-related molecules. The AHR integrates information from the different extrinsic and intrinsic signals and translates it into cellular responses, tailored to a specific ligand, cell type, and tissue context, albeit by not fully understood mechanisms.

The AHR is known to modulate processes highly relevant to cellular, tissue, and organism development, maintenance, and homeostasis. Its regulation and functions have been linked to diverse immune responses, resistance to infection, tissue regeneration, xenobiotic metabolism, as well as to different pathological conditions, such as inflammatory disorders and cancer2-6. Furthermore, modulation of the AHR pathway in response to a perturbation of cellular and tissue homeostasis profoundly impacts therapy in diseases such as cancer and infectious disease. 

Vero R. parkeri day1

In the ImmunoHUB ERA Chair laboratory (Immune Sensing and Infection Dynamics), we aim to study the role of the AHR as a dynamic and key sensor of the microenvironment and homeostasis, capable of fine-tuning different cellular responses in a timely and controlled manner, tailored to the nature and extent of the insult, and to the cellular and tissue context. With a focus on host- microbe interactions and cancer, the main research objectives are:

ERA Chair Holder

Research Team