Mark Gresnigt received DGHM-Förderpreis 2023
| by Charlotte Fuchs
One of this year's funding awards of the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM) goes to Mark Gresnigt, head of the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group Adaptive Pathogenicity Strategies at Leibniz-HKI.
On the occasion of the annual meeting of the DGHM in Lübeck at the end of September, special achievements in the field of infection and drug research were honored. Mark Gresnigt, group leader at Leibniz-HKI received one of this year's funding awards. Gresnigt researches strategies of Candida species, especially Candida albicans, to adapt to changing host conditions in order to persist in the human microbiota. These may include, for example, increased temperature during infection or host defense molecules. Certain yeasts of the Candida genus that colonize the human body are normally harmless. However, under certain conditions, they can become pathogens with the potential to cause both superficial and fatal infections. They are therefore referred to as opportunistic pathogens. The Adaptive Pathogenicity Strategies group, led by Gresnigt, is particularly interested in the underlying molecular mechanisms that induce such adaptations and the proteins that are sensed by the fungus.
In his PhD thesis, Gresnigt focused on pattern recognition and specific signaling pathways involved in host defense against the opportunistic pathogenic mold Aspergillus fumigatus. As a postdoctoral fellow, he studied the metabolic changes that occur in circulating monocytes when exposed to endotoxin from the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli. This experimental model mimics human sepsis. Gresnigt was thus able to show that the drastic systemic immune activation by endotoxemia causes monocytes to lose their metabolic plasticity. As a result, they also forfeit their ability to trigger cytokine responses, release reactive oxygen species, and clear the opportunistic pathogenic fungus Candida albicans.
In 2018, Mark Gresnigt then moved to the Leibniz-HKI in Jena with an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Together with the Department of Microbial Pathogenicity Mechanisms, he received the Research Promotion Award of the German-speaking Mycological Society in 2021 and the medac Research Award in 2022. Four of his 69 scientific publications to date have already been selected as paper of the month by the DGHM Board.
The second DGHM Research Promotion Prize was awarded this year to Katharina Schauffler, Professor of Epidemiology and Ecology of Antimicrobial Resistance at the Helmholtz Institute for One Health (University of Greifswald) and Junior Research Group Leader at the Institute of Pharmacy at the University of Greifswald.