EFIS Gender & Diversity Task Force

Vision: Diversity is our strength!

The EFIS Gender and Diversity Task Force aims to raise awareness, increase visibility, and support the networking of women, minorities and underrepresented groups in immunology. Download the full Task Force mission statement here.

Join the Task Force at the next ECI 2024 in Dublin for an insightful symposium organised jointly with the yEFIS Task Force on "The Future of and Challenges for Leadership in Academia"!

Task Force Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Günnur Deniz
Istanbul University
Director of Aziz Sancar Institute of Experimental Medicine
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Meet the Task Force members below.

Günnur Deniz (ORCID ID: 0000-0001-7960-9131) received her PhD in immunology from Liverpool University. Dr Deniz had worked at Istanbul University in numerous leadership positions to support and improve decision-making processes in administration. She also served as the President of the Turkish Society of Immunology. She is currently the director of Aziz Sancar Institute of Experimental Medicine. Her research involves autoimmune diseases, primary immunodeficiencies, several immunological disorders, regulation of innate and adaptive immunity. As the Spokesperson of the EFIS Diversity Task Force, she continues to address the under-representation of females and ethnic minorities in immunology.

MMontoya María Montoya (ORCID: 0000-0002-5703-7360) received her PhD from the Autonomous University in Madrid. Her postdoctoral stage was at "The Edward Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research" belonging to the University of Oxford (UK). In 2005, she began to lead her first research group at the “Center de Recerca en Sanitat Animal” in Barcelona. In 2014, she was offered a position as a viral immunologist leading a research group at The Pirbright Institute (UK). She moved back to Spain in 2018 when she obtained a permanent position at the CIB-CSIC. The primary objectives of her research group are to study the mechanisms that control the relationships of RNA viruses with the host immune system. In the current pandemic, her group were able to apply this accumulated experience to study various aspects of SARS-CoV-2, such as the mechanisms of inflammation or to design a vaccine at CIB-CSIC. She is Vice-Spokesperson of the EFIS Diversity Task Force and she actively works to balance gender differences in science.

DGrcevic Danka Grcevic (ORCID ID: 0000-0002-2365-8249) received her PhD from University of Zagreb, Croatia, in the field of osteoimmunology. She is currently full professor at the Department of Physiology and Immunology, University of Zagreb School of Medicine. Research of Dr Grcevic is focused on the regulation of myelopoiesis under inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, particularly mechanisms that regulate differentiation and activity of osteoclasts. Her lab is currently investigating the role of Notch signaling in the regulation of human and mouse myeloid lineage differentiation in arthritis. As a member of the EFIS Diversity Task Force, she strongly believes that all researchers should have equal professional opportunities.

CCiraci Ceren Ciraci (ORCID ID 0000-0003-2162-0930) received her PhD from Iowa State University and completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Iowa Inflammation Program. She is currently an associate professor in the molecular biology department at Istanbul Technical University. Dr Ciraci has an interest in innate and adaptive immunity, in particular the study of Nod-like Receptors (NLRs). Her lab currently focuses on the regulation of adaptive immune responses through the components of innate immunity based on the preliminary results that utilized in vivo mouse models of airway inflammation. As a member of the EFIS Diversity Task Force, she believes that we should all be equally concerned about making anyone feel worthy of a particular field because of their science, not because of who they are.

TSaksida Tamara Saksida (ORCID ID: 0000-0002-2527-3246) received her PhD from the University of Belgrade. She is currently, a principal investigator at the Department of immunology, Institute for Biological Research „Siniša Stanković’” in Belgrade. Tamara has extensive experience in animal models of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and their pharmacological modulation. Her group is interested in modulation of anti-viral immunity in respiratory diseases via the gut immune system and also, in the regulation of cellular responses in different conditions. As a member of the EFIS Diversity Task Force, she believes that the scientific community should endeavor to ensure greater diversity, inclusion and equity.

CEsser Charlotte Esser received her Ph.D. in genetics in 1990 from the University of Cologne, Germany. She is currently a group leader at the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine and a professor at the University of Düsseldorf. Her research focuses on the immunological and immunotoxicological functions of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, a transcription factor activated by small molecules such as indoles from plant nutrients, or dioxins as an environmental pollutant. Charlotte has been an advocate for women in science for many years and believes that science needs all diverse viewpoints and energies. She is convinced that the structural hurdles and "unconscious bias" barriers against women in science must be acknowledged and addressed for the future of science.

DStravinskiene Dovile Stravinskiene received her PhD from Vilnius University, Lithuania, in 2019, in the field of developing monoclonal and recombinant antibodies against human cancer-associated proteins. She is currently a researcher in the Immunology and Cell Biology Department at the Institute of Biotechnology, Vilnius University. She is interested in the development of novel immunological tools of diagnostic and therapeutic relevance, applicable to the research of cancer, viral or bacterial infections, and allergies. Her group currently conducts projects on new technologies for allergy diagnosis, the generation of virus-specific antibodies for diagnostic applications, and the production of novel affinity binders for immunodetection of antimicrobial resistance. As a member of EFIS diversity task force team, she believes that no scientist, woman or man, should have to choose between their family or their career, and that everyone should be given equal opportunities to work despite their gender, race, or beliefs.

SKnapp Sylvia Knapp (ORCID: 0000-0001-9016-5244) received her MD form the University of Vienna and her PhD from Amsterdam University. After her clinical training in internal medicine and intensive care medicine, she transitioned to research and became a Principal Investigator at the Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) of the Austrian Academy of Science. Since 2012 she is full professor of Infection Biology at the Medical University of Vienna. Her research addresses the innate immune response to infections in general, focusing specifically on the comprehensive repertoire of macrophage functions in health, development and disease. As a member of the EFIS Gender and Diversity Task Force she is highly committed to eliminating unconscious biases to improve and foster equal opportunities for women and minorities in science.

RCarsetti Rita Carsetti is Vice-President of IUIS and Head of the B-cell laboratory of the Bambino Gesu’ Children's Hospital in Rome. She spent 13 years in Germany at the Max-Planck Institute for Immunobiology acquiring a strong background in basic immunology of murine B cells. In Italy, she concentrated on human B cells with a patient-oriented research approach. She studies how human B cells change with age, immunodeficiency, infection, transplantation, and vaccination.

AvanSpriel Annemiek van Spriel (ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3590-2368) is Professor of Experimental Immunology at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. She obtained her PhD on research into neutrophil Fc receptors at Utrecht University in 2001 and worked as Postdoctoral researcher at the Leukocyte Membrane Protein Laboratory in Melbourne (Australia) until 2004. She is principal investigator of the Tetraspanin Research Group in the Medical Biosciences department at the Radboud University Medical Center. Her team investigates the role of membrane-organizing tetraspanins in the immune system. All our immune cells are surrounded by a cell membrane, of which the tetraspanins are a part. These are 4-transmembrane proteins that play an important role in the organization of protein complexes in the cell membrane that ensure immune cell function. Her team discovered that tetraspanins control fundamental cellular processes in immune cells, including proliferation, signal transduction and antigen presentation. Tetraspanin-deficiency leads to various immunological defects and development of cancer. The aim of her research is to unravel the molecular mechanisms that underlie tetraspanin function in immune cells in relation to the development of malignant disease. As a member of the EFIS Diversity Task Force, she wants to support females and ethnic minorities in immunology research and beyond.

KTarassi Katerina Tarassi was born and educated in Greece. After graduating from medical school (1984), she completed her specialization in Medical Biopathology (1990) and her PhD Thesis (1997). Her field of interest is Histocompatibility & Immunogenetics, which dates back to 1990 when she started working as a Registrar in the Immunology-Histocompatibility Dept of “Evangelismos” Hospital in Athens where she still works as Director since 2010. Additionally, she reinforced her knowledge in molecular techniques, trained in the ARC Epidemiology Research Unit, Manchester-UK (1995 & 1996), in the Immunology Laboratory-Hospital “Virgen de Rocio”, Seville-Spain (1998) and in the H & I and Disease profiling Laboratory-Stanford Medical School-USA (2015). She was also involved in research through publications, research projects and active participation in IHIWs since 1991. She was entitled to Honorary ESHI (European Specialization in Histocompatibility & Immunogenetics) Diploma since 2014. She is an EFI (European Federation of Immunogenetics) Inspector since 2009 and EFI Commissioner since 2023, as well as Member of EFI Executive Board (Councilor, 2019-2022). Additionally, she has been involved in the Board of Hellenic Society of Immunology (currently President) for many years.

Bieke_Broux Bieke Broux (ORCID 0000-0001-8509-2415) is Assistant Professor Immunology and group leader (Chronic inflammation and Blood brain barrier disruption in Neurodegeneration (CBN) lab) at Hasselt University, Belgium. During her PhD at Hasselt University (obtained in 2013), she provided first evidence for the involvement of cytotoxic CD4 T cells in multiple sclerosis pathogenesis, via fractalkine-mediated migration to the brain. After her PhD, she obtained a postdoctoral fellowship grant from the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO), to study human and mouse blood brain barrier (BBB) biology at Université de Montréal, Canada. There, she discovered that IL-26, a Th17-derived cytokine, is a BBB-protective factor. For her return to Belgium, she obtained a prestigious European ECTRIMS postdoctoral fellowship, and several bench fee grants to start her own research line at Hasselt university. In 2020, she received the Global MS Research Booster Award, an international grant awarded biennially by the Dutch foundation “Stichting MS Research” to boost the development of a postdoctoral fellow into an independent group leader. Since 2021, she is appointed as Assistant Professor, and her current activities are directed at finding solutions for patients with neurodegenerative diseases, through a focus on chronic inflammation and BBB disruption. Bieke has always been active in promoting inclusion in academia, and since 2022, she is the Chair of the Inclusion Committee at Hasselt University, which focuses on improving inclusive practice within the university.

N-Mossadegh-Keller Noushin Mossadegh-Keller received her PhD from Aix-Marseille University of France, in the field of immunology. She is currently the Chief Administratif Officier at the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille Luminy, CIML in France. The PhD topic of Dr Mossadegh-Keller was focused on the stem cell and macrophage biology, particularly on Hematopoietic Stem Cell differentiation to myeloid lineage, and the development of testicular macrophages. Noushin is the Vice-President of the French Society for Immunology. She was in the Task Force Member of yEFIS from 2021-2023. Noushin was one of the founded member of young immunology networks as the French Club of Young Immunologists and recently the International Union of Immunological Societies Junior Community. As a member of EFIS diversity task force team, she strongly believes that all researchers should have equal professional opportunities.