Leoni Abendstein joined the Sharp Lab in June 2018 as a PhD student. The Sharp lab has a strong focus on developing DNA nanotechnology to understand the human innate immune system, especially the complement cascade. The human complement cascade plays an essential role in immune defence against invading pathogens, as well as mediating clearance of cellular debris and apoptotic cells. During her PhD project Leoni will use DNA nanotechnology to determine the structure-function relationship of how antibodies nanopatterns activate C1.
Leoni studied Microbiology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. She performed her master’s thesis in the group of Univ. Prof. Dr. Susanne Zeilinger-Migsich, in Molecular Cell Biology of Filamentous Fungi. The main topic was to establish the bimolecular fluorescence complementation system (BiFC) to investigate on molecular interaction between a GPCR-like transmembrane receptor with two suspected downstream signalling partners in Trichoderma atroviride. In 2015 and 2016 Leoni performed an internship at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg at the Cancer Drug Development headed by Dr. Nikolas Gunkel and Dr. Aubry Miller. There she improved her knowledge about cell-culture and screening approaches.