Dr. Sofia Thomaidou obtained her doctorate cum laude

June 23rd, 2022

Sofia Thomaidou defended her PhD thesis on the “Mechanisms of autoantigen generation in Type 1 Diabetes”. The work was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Arnaud Zaldumbide and Prof. R.C. Hoeben.

Dr. Sofia Thomaidou obtained her doctorate cum laude

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease where the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas are attacked by the immune system. Throughout this thesis, Sofia challenged the classical view of T1D as a solely autoimmune disease and added to all the existing evidence indicating that beta cells by being inherently vulnerable to extracellular stress signals accumulate mistakes that may trigger an immune system with “good intentions” against a defective tissue. She studied the effect of an inflammatory environment on beta cell transcriptional, post transcriptional, translational, and antigen processing machinery, providing proof that beta cells are not inert victims of the immune system but active players in their own destruction. Her thesis clarifies the consequences of environment- and pathophysiology-induced changes on beta cells that lead to the development of autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes and provides new therapeutic targets to prevent formation or presentation of neoantigens.

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