Dr. J. Mikulak joined the UCEI in 2010 as a Senior Research Scientist. Her primary areas of expertise include human immunology and virology, in particular HIV-1 infection. Currently she is responsible for coordination and maintenance of effective clinical and scientific collaborations among various parts of the group involved in different research projects that exploit the molecular and cellular features of NK and gd T cells in several human pathologies including solid tumors, viral infections, and autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases. Her H Index is 15 (Scopus).
1) MSc Degree in Biological Science; University of Rome, Italy 1999, Field of Study: Human Immunology
2) Ph.D. in Biotechnology; University of L’Aquila, Italy 2004 Field of Study: Human Viral Immunology
Dr. J. Mikulak started her professional experience investigating the molecular mechanism of CD4 T lymphocytes activation. She completed her Ph.D. program under the supervision of Prof. P. Lusso, Human Virology, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan with the final thesis: “A soluble factor secreted from LPS-stimulated macrophages inhibits the replication of HIV-1 isolates in both macrophages and T lymphocytes”. In 2006 she moved to the Laboratory of Medicine at North Shore University Hospital and LIJ Medical Center, NY, USA, where she continued her study on the specific role of renal viral reservoirs in the pathogenesis of HIV-1. During these years she discovered different HIV-1 receptors and attachment factors expressed on kidney cells (tubular proximal epithelial cells and podocytes) as well as the kinetic and intracellular viral trafficking pathways involved in these cells. In 2009 Dr. J. Mikulak returned to Italy to continue her professional career at DIBIT, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Department of Molecular and Cellular Neurology in Milan, where she investigated the alternative splicing regulation of L1CAM molecule. In 2010 she moved to the UCEI under the supervision of Prof. D. Mavilio where she continued her work on different aspects of HIV-1 infection, in particular on: a) the role of different soluble (SuPAR) and intracellular (ApoL1) molecules, express in human podocytes, in the pathogenesis of HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN); b) immune characterization of the tissue-specific NK cell subsets resident in different anatomical sites of HIV-1 replication. These studies were supported by two research grants:
1) Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant (IRG) (PI) 2011-2015, and
2) Italian Institute of Health (ISS), Grant AIDS – Innovative Projects (PI) 2010-2012.
Currently Dr. J. Mikulak is responsible for the research group involved in different scientific projects that study the role of human innate immunity in solid tumors (glioblastoma, colon carcinoma and primary and metastatic liver cancer), viral infections, and autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases.