Carmen Gerlach (Principal Investigator)


Fascinated by the biology of the human body, I studied Biomedical Sciences at Leiden University in Leiden, the Netherlands (B.Sc. 2003 & M.Sc. 2005). As I wanted to see something of the world at the same time, I participated in an exchange program with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and performed an internship in parasitology that included field work in rural northern Ghana. My growing interest in immunology led me to perform my Master thesis in the lab of Rienk Offringa and Kees Melief at the Leiden University Medical Center, and during that time I realized that I wanted to continue my research career in this field. As PhD student in Ton Schumacher’s lab at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam (2005-2011), I got the chance to combine technological development with gaining deeper insights into basic immunological processes. Together with a few colleagues, I developed a cellular barcoding technology that allows in vivo tracking and fate mapping of single naive T cells. Using this technology, I established that while virtually all naive CD8 T cells give rise to both effector and memory cell progeny (Gerlach et al., J.Exp. Med. 2010), individual naive T cells nevertheless mount very distinct immune responses to facilitate robustness of the overall response (Gerlach et al., Science 2013). During my postdoc in Ulrich von Andrian’s lab at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA (2011-2017), I studied the memory CD8 T cell response in more detail, which led to the delineation of a novel subset, named ‘peripheral memory cells (Tpm)’ that has unique migratory, homeostatic and functional properties (Gerlach et al., Immunity 2016). To gain a better understanding of the computational aspects involved in the analysis of (immune) cells with the current high-dimensional single-cell technologies, I spent 8 months as visiting scholar in Nir Yosef’s lab at the University of California Berkeley in Berkeley, USA (2017). Since November 2017, I am an Assistant Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

carmen.gerlach (AT) | KI profile page | ORCID | LinkedIn | google scholar | Twitter @CGerlach_lab |

Anthonie Zwijnenburg (PhD student)

Before I joined Carmen Gerlach’s lab, I was trained in the Netherlands as a Medical Doctor at the University of Utrecht (B.Sc. 2012 & M.Sc., M.D. 2016). During that time I discovered that my interests lie more towards basic science than clinical medicine. To challenge myself during my Medicine study, I joined the traumatology laboratory at the University Medical Center Utrecht (2011). Halfway through my medical rotations, I decided to take a break from Medicine and to full-time explore my possibilities outside of Europe. That is when I set up a research internship in the lab of Ulrich von Andrian at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA (2014). There, I met Carmen Gerlach for the first time, as I helped her with studying memory CD8 T cell responses and the delineation of the novel peripheral memory cells (TPM) (Gerlach et al., Immunity 2016). After my year in the USA, I moved back to the Netherlands and finished my medical rotations. For my final scientific internship, I joined Jacco van Rheenen’s lab at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, Netherlands (2016). Here, I worked on human cancer organoids and the spatial analysis of confocal images. After finishing university, I first pursued another life goal by thru-hiking the length of New Zealand on the Te Araroa. Unknowing that Carmen’s and my path would cross again. While walking the last few hundred kilometers I got the message that Carmen was starting her own lab at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and here I am.

anthonie.zwijnenburg (AT) | KI profile page | LinkedIn

Iman Shryki (PhD student)

website pictureMy journey in immunology started with my favourite childhood cartoon “once upon a time… life”. Since then, immune cells got my ultimate respect. They were the superheroes who saved the day! I studied pharmaceutical/biomedical sciences afterwards (Tishreen University, Syria 2005-2010). I thought that if biomedical scientists and our immune arsenal would join forces, humans would have a chance to win the battle against many diseases, including malignancies. During my first postgraduate studies (drug design & development master programme, Tishreen University, Syria. 2011-2015), I went back to immunological research and designed an anti-HIV protease inhibitor for my individual project. In 2015, I moved to Sweden to delve into cutting-edge biomedical research (Biomedicine master programme, Uppsala University, 2015-2017). In 2017, I joined Lena Ström’s group at Karolinska Institute where I developed a genuine interest in cellular biology. Today, I know that immunological research still is my main area of interest, and I am planning to pursue a career in immunology. Therefore, I joined Carmen Gerlach’s group in October 2018. In this inspiring environment, I am currently chasing every opportunity to learn more and, happily, advance further in my exciting journey.

iman.shryki (AT)  | KI profile page |

Jyoti Pokharel (PhD student)

picture_jyotipokharel.jpgAs a kid, I wanted to become a doctor and “treat” diseases. After finishing school, I found it even more compelling to be involved in basic research and contribute to drug discovery and disease control. I moved to Bangladesh, where I got a B.Sc. degree in Biological Sciences and minor in Public Health at Asian University for Women (2015).  During my undergraduate years, I had few lectures on immunology and I couldn’t be more fascinated when I learned how our immune system fights pathogens and protects us. Without knowing what and where next, I took a year-long break and worked as a teaching assistant in my university (2015-2016).  During that time, I made up my mind that I wanted to study cancer biology and ended up in Germany where I studied Molecular Biosciences, major Cancer Biology, a combined degree from Universität Heidelberg and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). During my master’s program, I completed internships in different cancer types and fibrosis in different settings (epigenetics, genomics, and immunology). In 2018, I joined Jonathan Coquet’s lab at Karolinska Insitutet, Sweden which was my first time exposure to immunological studies. I knew right away, my heart was in immunology. I returned to Heidelberg and received my M.Sc. degree (2019). After finishing masters, I was looking for opportunities to work in immunology and more specifically, CD8T cells. Luckily, I was recommended to check Carmen’s work. And now, every day at work I love what I do or let’s say, I get to do what I love!

jyoti.pokharel (AT)  | KI profile page |

Ioana Sandu (Postdoc)


I have been dreaming of becoming a scientist ever since I was a child. My interest in life sciences and the desire to explore the world drove me to complete my undergrad education outside Romania. I have studied Biochemistry and Bioengineering at the National Institute for Applied Sciences (Lyon, France, 2009 – 2014), where I fell in love with immunology and decided to complete my research master in therapeutic bioengineering in Bernard Verrier’s group, during which I studied the immune response induced by a nanoparticle-based vaccine. This experience motivated me to pursue my studies in immunology with the aim of getting a better understanding of fundamental CD8 T cell biology. I have then moved to Zurich, Switzerland for my graduate studies (2015 – 2019), followed by a postdoc (2020 – 2022) in systems immunology at ETH Zurich in Annette Oxenius’ and Manfred Claassen’s groups. My work focused on CD8 T cell heterogeneity and T cell receptor signaling during chronic viral infection. By using an experimental mouse model and computational tools, I could show that the differentiation of CD8 T cells is shaped by the tissue microenvironment, leading to different functional phenotypes. I was fascinated by their heterogeneity and decided to continue working on CD8 T cells to gain a better understanding of how this diversity is generated. In 2022 I joined Carmen’s group to learn how to barcode naïve CD8 T cells, which will enable me to investigate the heterogeneity of CD8 T cells at the clonal level. 

ioana.sandu (AT)  | KI profile page | ORCID | LinkedIn


Natalia Ramirez Comet, Postdoc, 2018-2023 | LinkedIn

Maria-Nefeli Christakopoulou, Research Assistant, 2022

Wenning Zheng, Postdoc, 2020-2022 | Google Scholar

Shaima Al Khabouri, Postdoc, 2020-2022 | ORCID

Bharadwaja Velidendla, Research Assistant, 2019


2022* Victor Avramov, Master student (Biomedical Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands) (LinkedIn)

2021* Mara Henrich, Erasmus+ Master student (Biomedicine, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany) (LinkedIn)

2021* Christina Bekiari, Master student (Biomedicine, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden) (LinkedIn)

2021* Laura Krumm, Erasmus+ Master student (Molecular Medicine, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany) (LinkedIn)

2019* Kayleigh Ingersoll, exchange student (Immunology PhD program, Harvard University, USA) (LinkedIn)