My research interests have always been focused on the role of the dendritic cells (DCs) in various immunologic contexts such as parasite and viral infections or autoimmunity.
During my PhD at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in the Unit 346 directed by Pr. Daniel Schmitt, I was focused on the influence of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii on human DCs. We identified that this parasite have developed various strategies to regulate human DC functions. Particularly, we demonstrated that some parasitic strains were able to control DC activation leading to a mild immune response and the long-life persistence of the parasite in his host (Diana et al. FEMS Immunol 2004 and Clin. Exp. Immunol 2005). I have completed my PhD in Immunology and Parasitology at Claude Bernard University in Lyon in 2004.
My post-doctoral training (from 2006 to 2010) was performed at the INSERM Unit 561 directed by Pr. Christian Boitard. My postdoctoral project was to investigate the role of DCs upon viral infections in a mouse model of autoimmune diabetes. Indeed converging epidemiological, genetic, and functional studies suggested that viral infections may play a role in autoimmune diabetes. We have demonstrated that a subset of DC (i.e. plasmacytoid DC (pDCs)) was central in the prevention of diabetes conferred by viral infections. We have uncovered a unique cellular and molecular crosstalk between innate immune cells taking place locally in the pancreatic tissue and leading to the prevention of diabetes development upon viral infection (Diana et al. Immunity 2009 and The J. Exp. Med 2011).
In 2011, I was appointed as research associate at the INSERM Unit 986 (team Immunology) directed by Dr. Agnes Lehuen. I initiated a project on the role of pDCs and other innate immune cells in the development of autoimmune diabetes in a non-infectious context in NOD mice. We revealed an unknown mechanism of initiation of autoimmune diabetes and importantly illuminated the unidentified role of neutrophils and cathelicidin in autoimmune diabetes in mice (Diana et al. Nat. Med 2013).
In 2014, I moved to the Necker Enfants Malades Institute (INEM, Inserm U1151) to build my own independent group inside the team of Pr. Peter van Endert and I continue to investigate the innate immune mechanism modulating autoimmune diabetes and we are particularly focused on the role of antimicrobial peptides in the autoimmune process. We recently revealed the immunoregulatory role of cathelicidin produced by pancreatic endocrine cells during the development of autoimmune diabetes in mice and we demonstrated the direct role of the gut microbiota in the control of the immune tolerance in the pancreas (Sun et al. Immunity 2015).