The “cell-sitting” list is something like a ticket for a vacation. Because when Dr. Daniela Paasch wants to take a vacation, she uses it to record exactly how her colleagues can preserve the life of the cells with which the postdoc is conducting research at the MHH Clinic for Pediatric Pneumology, Allergology and Neonatology. With these immune cells, or more precisely macrophages, Dr. Paasch is developing cell therapies against bacteria – as an alternative to antibiotics. She works in Prof. Lachmann’s team.

“We are testing how effectively different macrophages can fight bacteria, for example tuberculosis bacteria,” she says. In doing so, the researchers are comparing macrophages derived from blood cells with macrophages derived from so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) – that is, derived from cells produced in the laboratory from adult somatic cells using a technique called “reprogramming.” The goal is to develop therapies against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To achieve this goal, the lab team sticks together: In fixed teams, the lab tasks are divided among themselves and everything is well prepared beforehand to make it as easy as possible for the others to take care of the experiments. And afterwards, they bring sweets to the office as a thank you for everyone.

Hannes Neubauer also cares about the important issue of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. “If I want to take a vacation, I have to have my work done beforehand. It doesn’t happen that I let something go on,” says the doctoral student in the team of Prof. Galardini, research group Systems Biology of Microbial Communities of the TWINCORE Institute for Molecular Bacteriology.

He is particularly interested in the reason for antibiotic resistance, and is working exclusively on computers to find out. “Bacterial strains of a species can differ greatly in their genetic makeup and thus in their properties. In particular, I am interested in the extent to which changes in the genes of E. coli bacterial strains obtained from patient samples are responsible for antibiotic resistance,” he says.

Genetic variations of bacterial genomes are analyzed with genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The team he is part of is developing bioinformatics methods that make it easier to interpret the results of the analysis. To do this, it has developed a simple computational method (panfeed). The results have already been published as a preprint, so it can now go on its well-deserved vacation.

Dr. Daniela Paasch pipettes macrophages into a nutrient medium.
Hannes Neubauer is happy when he can put away his laptop after work and trade it in for a vacation in nature.