Prof. Dr. Jean Pieters

University of Basel
Klingelbergstrasse 50 / 70
CH - 4056 Basel
Biozentrum, Room 505 Phone: +41 61 207 14 94
Curriculum Vitae

Administrative Assistant

Maja Güntensperger-Heckel
Biozentrum, Room 508
Phone: +41 61 207 21 51
Fax: +41 61 207 21 48


Lack of coronin 1 protein causes learning deficits and aggressive behavior

Learning and memory relies on the proper processing of signals that stimulate...more

Science Slam No 2 – Biozentrum Scientists on the Stage

Why do ingesting tuberculosis bacteria make immune cells sick? What about the...more

Somdeb Bose Dasgupta wins an INSA medal for Young Scientists

Somdeb Bose Dasgupta, postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Jean...more

Research group Jean Pieters

How immune cells sense their environment

Our research aims to understand how immune cells coordinate input signals from the environment to initiate responses towards a variety of pathogenic stimuli.

Essential role for coronin 1 in peripheral T cell survival. T cells in lymph nodes (red, left) are absent after depletion of the protein coronin 1 (right).

The immune system comprises of a plethora of cell types that form an efficient network to detect invading pathogens as well as tumor cells. Our research is aimed at understanding the signal transduction processes that are involved in the body’s immune defense. On the one hand, we are interested in elucidating how pathogens cause disease despite the presence of a functioning immune system. On the other hand, we aim to understand the processes that underlie immune cell homeostasis and activation by ‘self’ triggers such as occur during autoimmunity.

Hijacking of host immune defense mechanisms by pathogens

Pathogens have evolved elaborate strategies to circumvent host defense mechanisms. We are analyzing those evasion mechanisms used by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, arguably one of the most successful pathogens on earth. We are defining virulence strategies employed by the bacteria as well as analyzing how mycobacteria hijack host cell signal transduction mechanisms to persist.

Signaling, immunity and host responses

In order to be effective against pathogens, the body needs to carefully maintain appropriate numbers of circulating immune cells in peripheral organs such as the spleen, lymph nodes and blood. In addition, these cells need to be kept in a resting, inactive state, also called ‘naïve’, since overt immune cell activation can also cause severe pathologies, including tissue destruction and autoimmunity such as systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. We aim to decipher the mechanisms involved in immune cell homeostasis, in particular T cells, in order to gain a better understanding of the processes that underlie the maintenance of appropriate numbers of naïve T cells.