Doctoral student from Karolinska Institute to train at Trudeau

SARANAC LAKE – The Trudeau Institute is hosting a Swedish Ph.D. candidate from the prestigious Stockholm-based Karolinska Institute, who will be trained in specialized confocal imaging techniques in order to bring the new knowledge back to Karolinska.

The student, Thomas Hagglof, arrived in Saranac Lake in October to train under Trudeau faculty member Elizabeth Leadbetter, Ph.D., an expert in the field of iNKT and B cell cooperation. Leadbetter has been collaborating with fellow immunologist Mikael Karlsson, Ph.D., an associate professor at Karolinska Institute and Hagglof’s doctoral thesis advisor.

Leadbetter and Michael Tighe, the Trudeau’s imaging and histology core manager, have developed a new method to visualize NKT cells in fresh murine spleens. At Trudeau, Hagglof will work closely with Tighe to learn the method, making extensive use of Trudeau’s expertise in confocal microscopy.

“This is a new technique that enables us to see where these rare but important cells are and to identify what they are contacting, something which has evaded our field for a long time,” said Leadbetter about the new method. She added, “I am grateful to Trudeau for facilitating this collaboration and am thrilled that Thomas has dedicated himself to mastering this technique. Between his work here and back in his lab in Sweden, I expect we will make exciting new insights into his study of autoimmune disease.”

Hagglof, who has already earned a master’s in medical science with a major in biomedicine from Karolinska, previously studied in the United States at the University of Iowa and the University of Houston. After completing his Ph.D., he hopes to become a postdoctoral fellow at a research facility, with a focus on immunology, specifically on B cells or with a focus on autoimmunity.

The Trudeau Institute has long ties to the Karolinska Institute, which was founded in 1810 by King Karl XIII and is famed for selecting the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine each year. As one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools, Karolinska accounts for over 40 percent of the academic medical research conducted in Sweden and offers the country’s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences.

Karlsson, Hagglof’s advisor at Karolinska, has also spent significant time in New York state, having completed a postdoctoral fellowship in 2005 at Rockefeller University and presented on iNKT cell regulation of B cells during autoimmune disease at the Trudeau Institute in 2012.

Ronald H. Goldfarb, Ph.D., the Trudeau Institute’s president, director and CEO, also has long ties to Karolinska. He has interacted over the years with multiple faculty members, including a former dean of the institute’s School of Medicine and a former CFO of Karolinska Development. He also sent his first Ph.D. student for postdoctoral training at Karolinska. “I have had the highest level of respect for the Karolinska Institute and the leadership of Professor Hans Wigzell, Professor emeritus of Immunology at the Department of Microbiology, Tumour and Cell Biology, for more than three decades,” Goldfarb said.

Grad student Hagglof expects to be in Saranac Lake through the end of the year training. During his down time in the Adirondacks, the recreational cross-country skier plans to investigate local sport venues and investigate joining a local hockey team.