Written Jan. 15, 2019
Berenice Mbiribindi, MSc, PhD
Mentor: Dr. Sherri Krams
Berenice Mbiribindi, MSc, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the Transplant Immunology Lab.
“The immune system has always fascinated me,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “There is a large variety of immune cells that help us to fight cancer and microbes and keep us healthy, but I have a great interest in natural killer(NK) cells.”
NK cells are lymphocytes that belongs to the innate immunity system and rapidly sense and destroy abnormal cells.
Born in Congo, Dr. Mbiribindi moved to France as a young girl and earned her bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences at Paris Descartes University. After completing her master’s in Immunology and Microbiology at Pierre-and-Marie-Currie University, Dr. Mbiribindi moved across the Channel to work on her doctorate at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom). Dr. Mbiribindi says she decided to come to Stanford because, not only was Dr. Sheri Krams inviting her to research exactly what she was interested in, but she was giving her the opportunity to do so using Stanford's unparalleled resources.
“I’m investigating the role of NK cells in the recognition and response to Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) 90% of the world population is infected by EBV but it’s a-symptomatic because our immune system keeps it in check,” said Dr. Mbiribindi.
However, after organ transplantation, EBV can cause Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder (PTLD).
“In that situation the EBV can reactivate as the organ recipient’s immunity is not fully available to fight it due to the immunosuppression treatment,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “The goal of my research is to utilize a NK-cell based approach to prevent disease caused by EBV.”
Dr. Mbiribindi was awarded The Transplantation Society Young Investigator Scientific Award 2018. She will present her work entitled, Natural killer cell recognition of peptides encoded by EBV latent cycle proteins, at the 27th International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Madrid later this year.
“There is still a lot to discover about these cells,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “In the near future, I’m hoping to become a Primary Investigator and have my own team working on NK cells for therapeutic applications.”
UPDATE: Dr. Mbiribindi is now a Senior Scientific Researcher at Genentech, Translational Oncology.