Nordic Complement Committee 





The Summer School has been supported by



   Burkhard Becher (CH)


   Jan Damoiseaux (NL)


   Pablo Engel (ESP)


   Tobias Freitag (FIN)


   Peter Garred (DEN)

6    Kati Kaartinen (FIN)

   Diana Karpman (SWE)


   Eliisa Kekäläinen (FIN)


   Kai Kisand (EST)


   Seppo Meri (FIN)


   Tom Eirik Mollnes (NOR)


   Bo Nilsson (SWE)


   Kristina Nilsson-Ekdahl (SWE)


   Pärt Peterson (EST)


   Anna Šedivá (CZ)


   Aili Tagoma (EST)


   Susan Wong (UK)


Burkhard Becher 

(University of Zurich, Switzerland)

Burkhard Becher studied Biology at the University of Cologne in Germany. He conducted his graduate studies at McGill University in Canada followed by a postdoc at Dartmouth Medical School in the US. In 2003, he was recruited as Assistant Professor to the University of Zurich and 2008, he became professor and chairman at the Institute of Experimental Immunology where he heads the Unit for Inflammation Research. His research focusses on communication networks in inflammation and immunotherapy. He is a continuously “highly cited scholar” since 2018 was awarded numerous prized and honors and is recipient of the ERC Advanced grant in 2019.







Jan Damoiseaux 

(Maastricht University Medical Center, Netherlands)

Jan Damoiseaux (PhD) is medical immunologist and as such involved in diagnostic testing for immune-mediated diseases at the Maastricht University Medical Center. His career has started in basic immunology research and evolved, via research in animal models for autoimmune diseases, towards clinical immunology research. The research has predominantly been focussed on immune regulation via cytokines and/or T-lymphocytes, as well as on autoantibody testing. He is an active member of the College of Medical Immunologists (CMI), the European Autoantibody Standardisation Initiative (EASI), and the International Consensus on ANA Patterns (ICAP) working party. He has published more than 300 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. Many of these papers were the result of close collaboration with renowned  national and international scientists.



Pablo Engel

(University of Barcelona, Spain)

Pablo Engel is a MD. Ph.D. from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School (MA, USA). He was an assistant professor at the Department of Immunology at Duke University Medical School (NC, USA). Since 1997 he is the Head of the Immunology Unit at University of Barcelona Medical School. His major focus has been the study of lymphocyte surface molecules and their roles in autoimmunity and cancer. Dr. Engel was the President of the International Council of Human Cell Differentiation Molecules (HCDM) (2010-2022), Chair the Nomenclature committees of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) (2010-2016), and Secretary General of the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS) (2016-2021). 




Tobias Freitag 

(University of Helsinki, Finland)

My research group is interested in antigen-specific immune tolerance induction as a curative therapy for HLA-associated autoimmune diseases (AID). Our main hypothesis is that the dysregulated immune system in AID can be reprogrammed. The existence of autoreactive T and B cells, frequently demonstrated in AID, does not preclude this possibility. Instead, the key questions are how a state of unresponsiveness of the immune system to relevant (auto-)antigens can be (re-)established in AID, and what regulatory cell population(s) may perform this task. Therapeutic immune tolerance induction is emerging as a promising treatment concept for AID because "a short course of immunotherapy (would translate) into long-term benefit while maintaining immune competency" (Bluestone JA, Tang Q; Sci Transl Med 2015). However, we still lack a clear understanding of the cellular components and tissue compartments most conductive to therapeutic tolerance induction. To address these questions, we test and compare different nanoscale vehicles and peptide/protein delivery methods in mouse models of AID. Celiac disease (CD) has been identified as the AID most suitable for the exploration of tolerogenic immunomodulatory approaches, because key components of CD pathogenesis -including the environmental antigen gluten/gliadin as disease driver- have been identified. Our findings have provided proof-of-efficacy for gliadin nanoparticles in vivo (Freitag TL et al.; Gastroenterology 2020) and encouraged a phase 2a study now successfully completed in CD patients. Original results from transcriptomic studies have provided us with tolerogenic signatures in different experimental settings, identifying gene targets regulating gliadin memory responses. The regulated genes directly point towards B and T cell differentiation, APC function, costimulation and MHC II peptide loading. Our research is also focused on the identification of suitable environmental or (auto-)antigen targets for immunomodulation in various human AID. Based on recent findings, we plan to elucidate mechanisms of immune tolerance induction, providing the opportunity to develop antigen-specific immunotherapy of CD and other AID, e.g. type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and narcolepsy type 1.  


Diana Karpman

(Lund University, Sweden)

Diana Karpman is professor of pediatrics at Lund University, Sweden. She obtained her MD at Sackler School of Medicine and her PhD at Lund University. She combines clinical duties in the field of pediatric nephrology with research and teaching. Her research focuses on the pathophysiology of kidney injury and inflammation. Dr. Karpman is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and a Wallenberg Clinical Scholar. She heads the Skåne Center of Excellence in Health.




Kai Kisand

(University of Tartu, Estonia)

Kai Kisand got her MD from the University of Tartu, Estonia and earned a PhD from the same university in 1999. She undertook post-doctoral training at the Uppsala University, Sweden. Currently she is the Research Professor of Cellular Immunology at the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, University of Tartu. Her major research interests have been related to monogenic autoimmunity and more recently to immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and its vaccine. Her research has importantly contributed to revealing the indispensable role of Th17 cytokines in the protection of the epithelial surfaces from Candida infection and type I IFNs in protection from severe COVID-19.





Eliisa Kekäläinen 

(University of Helsinki, Finland)

I am an immunologist with wide interest in immunodeficiency diagnostics and immunological tolerance. My research focuses especially on the primary immunological organ the thymus. I am interested in how e.g. common viral infections and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation affect thymus function, how we could better measure thymopoiesis in clinical situations, and what kind of pathological processes in the thymus lead to immunodysregulation in autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis. Together with leading my own research team at the University of Helsinki, I work part-time at the HUS Diagnostic Center Clinical Microbiology and Immunology (Helsinki University Hospital) where I mainly focus on immunodeficiency laboratory diagnostics. At the ABC7 Summer school I will tell  you about myasthenia gravis, an intriguing autoimmune disease where the thymus starts to produce autoantibodies. 




Seppo Meri

(University of Helsinki, Finland)

Seppo Meri is Professor of Immunology at the Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki, Finland, and the Chief Physician of Research in Microbiology and Immunology at HUSLAB, laboratory of the Helsinki University Hospital. He is also a visiting professor at the Humanitas University, Milan, Italy.

Seppo served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas in 1988 and in 1989–90 as an EMBO fellow at MRC, Cambridge, UK. His research interests include diseases related to disturbances in complement regulation, role of complement-in vascular disease and autoimmunity.  He has published ≈ 270 original research articles and 130 reviews or textbook chapters on complement, autoimmunity and microbial escape of immunity.

He has been the President of the Scandinavian Society for Immunology 2001-2007 and of the European Complement Network 2001-2003. He served as the Secretary General of the International Union of Immunological Societies 2010-2016 and as a member of the FEBS Publication Committee 2014-2018.


Pärt Peterson

(University of Tartu, Estonia)

Pärt Peterson is a Professor of Molecular Immunology at the University of Tartu, Estonia. He graduated in molecular biology at the University of Tartu and defended his PhD in molecular immunology in 1996 at the University of Tampere, Finland. He has been a Fellow of the Finnish Academy, The Wellcome Trust International Senior Fellow, and the Research Professor of the Academy of Estonia. Since 2008, he has been a Professor of Molecular Immunology at the University of Tartu, Estonia. His research interest has focused on the Autoimmune Regulator (AIRE) gene, the key factor in central thymic tolerance and in avoiding autoimmunity. He co-discovered and made initial characterization of the DNA methyltransferase 3-like (DNMT3L) gene, a regulator of DNA methylation and epigenetic imprinting. He has studied the age-related changes in the immune system, and more recently, immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.



Anna Šedivá 

(Motol University Hospital, Czech Republic)

Prof. Sediva has a long time experience as a pediatrician working at all levels of pediatric care, from a local hospital to University affiliated specialized centers. Her further practice in immunology includes internships abroad from 1992 to 1995 at New York Medical College in NY, USA and further in 2021 as the Fulbright scholar in University of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, in 2001. From 2010 to 2015 she held a position on the ESID board and since 2011 she is chairing JMF center in Prague. Prof. Sediva holds currently the position of vice-head of the Department of Immunology in major University hospital in Prague. She is responsible for the field of pediatric immunopathologies with an emphasis on inborn errors of immunity.



Aili Tagoma

(University of Tartu, Estonia)

I started working at the Department of Immunology of the University of Tartu as a bachelor’s student in the field of reproductive immunology and continued my research during my master’s and doctoral studies. I defended my PhD thesis in 2013. I am currently working as a research fellow at the same department, where our research is focusing on immune system regulation in different forms of diabetes with an emphasis on gestational diabetes. I am interested in the role of innate immunity-related changes in the development of gestational diabetes and related complications in both mothers and their offspring. As a new topic in our department, we are studying antibody reactivity to gut commensals and its relation to immune mediated disease development.  




Susan Wong 

(University of Cardiff, UK)

Professor F. Susan Wong trained in Medicine, and also obtained her PhD from Kings College London University.  She is currently Professor of Experimental Diabetes and Metabolism at Cardiff University and Honorary Consultant Physician in Diabetes at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.  She has many years of research into the causes of type 1 diabetes, focusing on the role of the adaptive immune system, particularly CD8 T cells and B cells, as well as innate immunity related to the gut microbiome.  She has interests in the development of immunotherapy for Type 1 diabetes, and is a member of the Type 1 Diabetes UK Immunotherapy Consortium.