The power of Single Cell Genomics: Discovery and Characterisation of novel human Immune Cells

Alexandra-Chloé Villani is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and is affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research program focuses on defining healthy human immune response, including identifying novel immune cell subpopulations and the contribution of genetic variability, to further our understanding of how this baseline is perturbed in disease. She is using population-based and single-cell profiling technologies, along with perturbation strategies and high-throughput functional assays for monitoring human immune cells, to establish a comprehensive data repository that will further our understanding of immune changes associated with human traits and diseases, such as autoimmunity and cancer. Villani also studies the role of the immune system in cancer development and progression using similar strategies to systematically dissect tumor-associated mechanisms involved in recruiting and mediating interactions with immune cells, which are likely to contribute to the inflammation observed in the tumor microenvironment.

Villani received her bachelor’s degree in human physiology and a Ph.D. in Experimental Medicine from McGill University. During her doctoral studies, she identified the first post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome susceptibility genes as well as a novel Crohn’s disease susceptibility gene. Her research has been published in journals including Gastroenterology, Nature Genetics, Nature Immunology, and, Science. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lawrence H. Summers Fellowship, the Janeway Award, the Louis-Berlinguet Postdoctoral Fellowship from FRSQ/Génome Québec, and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.