Molecular genetics of development with focus on cranio-facial structures and the immune system
Group leader: Professor Zlatko Dembic, dr. med.;
We research the genes important for giving early signals to embryonic tissues during development to differentiate into structures in the cranio-facial area comprising oral mucosa, salivary glands, teeth, bones, joints, tonsils, bone marrow and neural tissue. We also investigate genes that may predispose to various diseases of immunologic and/or inflammatory character, and can lead to development of chronic diseases or cancer later on in life of an individual. We use case (disease) - control studies to determine frequencies of markers in genetic areas that have been selected by educated guess or linked to cranio-facial area by microchip expression profiling. We have recently investigated predisposing genetic factors in tuberculosis, breast and colon cancer as well as primary osteoarthritis of large joints including temporo-mandibulary joint. Genes of interest comprise various cytokine family members like interferon-gamma and interleukin-1, and Toll-like receptor families 1,2,3,4,6,7, and 9, which are important for the early activation of the specific (adaptive) immune responses.
Keywords: 1. DNA, 2. Immunogenetics, 3. Respiratory infection, 4. Epitelial cancer, 5. Joint inflammasjon (temporo-mandibular joint), 6. Immunoregulation, 7. RT PCR
Higher education and employment history
As a scientist with a medical background, it's natural that my research interests are placed at the crossroads of medicine and biology. Since the earliest days of my lab career I was attracted to molecular and cellular immunology. The more I learned, the more my interest evolved toward studying ontogeny and phylogeny of the immune system. The reason was simple: I wished to understand its function, and that is still my wish. During the last twenty years of the past century I've worked on important issues in immunology at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biology (Tubingen, Germany), the Basel Institute for Immunology (Switzerland; CH) and the Hoffman-La Roche AG (Basel, CH). We were the first to report the identification of genes underlying T-cell specificity and recognition (mouse T-cell receptor, in '86). Likewise, we led the research on molecular cloning of human cytokine receptors important for the effector phase of immunity such as the interferon-gamma receptor (IFNGR1; in '88) and the tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 (TNFR2; in '90). In 1995, I moved to the Institute of Immunology at the University of Oslo, Norway. Since then I have broadened the scope of my research by working on T-cell development, cancer immunobiology, immunogenetics and susceptibility to cancer and infectious diseases. And, since 2002 I have done research and taught at the Department of Oral Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, UiO.
All of this would not have been possible without a substantial contribution from my academic collaborators and colleagues in Norway and Croatia. Some of these studies led me to propose a model about the workings of the immune system called the "integrity" model in the mid-nineties. It stresses that immunity is not only a defense system, but also a selector of potential symbionts and commensals. So far, my publication list has over 80 scientific contributions. Ten percent were published in top scientific journals (Nature and Cell) with myself as a prominent author (in half of them). I tend to take these achievements as evidence of the great fun and joy that basic research in immunology has given me over the past years. They are also the source of an unending motivation to study further what remains unknown - a progressively smaller part of human body.
Find more about biography here: http://folk.uio.no/zlatkod/index2.html
Honoraria - prizes
- The Hoffman-LaRoche prize (internal) for the first report on molecular cloning of the human Interferon gamma receptor molecule (1988)
- Since 2002 - Professor of cell biology, immunology and microbiology at the Department of Oral Biology, Dental Faculty, University in Oslo
- Since 2007 - Professor of medicine at the Medical School of the University in Rijeka (Croatia) (private; for postgraduate studies in clinical immunology).
- Since 2006 - Associate Editor of the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology (Blackwell)
Centre for Immune Regulation (CiR) - Professor Bjarne Bogen;
Dept of Molecular Medicine and Biotechnology - Professor Sinisa Volarevic;
Clinic of Internal Medicine, Dept of Pulmology - Doc Ljiljana Bulat-Kardum;
Department of Physiology and Immunology - Professor Ines Mrakovcic-Sutic;
Medical Faculty in Pula, University Juraj Dobrila, Pula, Croatia:
Dean - Professor dr med Kresimir Pavelic;
General Hospital Pula, Clinic for Oncology - Professor Damir Vrbanec;
Institute Rudjer Boskovic, Zagreb, Croatia:
Dept of Molecular Medicine - Dr Jelena Knezevic