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Acteria Doctoral prize in Immunology

Dr. Charlotte Scott

(PhD 2014), Belgium, BIS, for her post-doctoral work on the role for the local environment in mediating macrophage phenotype

Charlotte Scott, 33, obtained her PhD in the lab of Prof. Allan Mowat at the University of Glasgow in 2014. She then moved to the lab of Prof. Martin Guilliams, VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research, Belgium for a postdoc. After 5 years postdoctoral training, she became an associate professor at Ghent University, Belgium in 2019 and a principal investigator at the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research, Belgium in 2020. In 2021 she also became an adjunct professor at her alma mater, the University of Limerick, Ireland. Throughout her career to date, she has published articles as first or senior author in Immunity, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Nature Communications, Nature Reviews Immunology, and Trends in Immunology. Her postdoctoral career was funded by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship and two research grants for postdocs from the FWO. To start up her independent lab, she was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant and the Collen-Franqui start-up prize.

In recent years the macrophage field has undergone a conceptual revolution. Rather than being derived from bone-marrow progenitors it is now clear that the resident macrophage populations present in most organs are embryonically-derived. This led to the hypothesis that resident macrophages would be distinct from macrophages recruited in adulthood in terms of phenotype and function. However, during her postdoc Dr Scott demonstrated that even when the resident macrophages of the liver, termed Kupffer cells (KCs) were specifically depleted in adult mice, these were rapidly replaced by bone-marrow derived macrophages with an almost identical transcriptional profile to the original resident KCs. This led to the proposal of the niche hypothesis that nurture by the local environment rather than the nature of the progenitors governs macrophage profiles. Comparison of the KC transcriptome with other resident macrophages identified that KCs were enriched for genes associated with lipid metabolism. Given the rapidly increasing incidences of fatty liver disease in the western world, Dr Scott now investigates the role of these macrophages and other myeloid cells in the pathogenesis of fatty liver disease. Her lab members have recently identified distinct subsets of macrophages residing in distinct zones within the fatty liver again suggesting a role for the local environment in mediating macrophage phenotype. Moving forward Dr Scott and her team now aim to unravel the specific functions of these different macrophage subsets in driving the progression from fatty liver disease to hepatocellular carcinoma.

Dr Scott pursues her project on understanding the functions of distinct hepatic macrophage populations in fatty liver disease at the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research and Ghent University in the Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology.

Twitter: @KC_DC_01