8 September 2022

New Group leader at SIC wants to understand eczema

New group

Why do some people suffer from eczema and what can we do to stop this? These are questions Jonathan Coquet is going to answer as leader of a new group at the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center. Behind him is years of experience and knowledge from previous research on immunology, T Cells, asthma, and allergies.

Picture of Joanthan Coquet

“This is a really exciting opportunity. I think that the network and the support that the skin center provides is close to unmatched,” says Jonathan Coquet about joining the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center (SIC) at the University of Copenhagen.

From October 2022, he will be the leader of a new group at the research center focusing on T Cells and understanding how allergic diseases such as asthma and eczema develop.

Jonathan Coquet comes from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where he has led a research group focused on understanding the beneficial and detrimental roles that T Cells play in allergic disease, infection and cancer. He now brings this knowledge and expertise to SIC.

I am thrilled to welcome a group leader of Jonathan Coquet’s capacity to the center. Jonathan Coquet brings invaluable insights into eczema, one of our focus diseases areas, and is a unique contribution to the synergistic scientific community we are building.

Executive Director of SIC, Liv Eidsmo

Opportunity to work with patient samples

“One of the main reasons for me moving is to work in human diseases and the BIOSKIN research program is a big part of that. Now that they have started collecting samples, it’s full steam ahead,” says Jonathan Coquet.

The BIOSKIN research program is a collaboration between SIC and Herlev and Gentofte Hospital to collect samples from 3,000 individual patients who suffer from psoriasis and eczema. The samples include skin biopsies, blood, and DNA, and are integral to Jonathan Coquet and his future research at the center.

“BIOSKIN is an incredibly unique resource, into which very few researchers around the world have an opportunity to partake. It’s also something that we as lab scientists can help to shape in its design and scope. This collaboration between the fundamental research and the clinic is fantastic,” he continues.

“Getting access to eczema samples is difficult, so having a good clinical program is very important. And it means that clinicians and basic researchers can team up to solve the most important problems of the day in skin disease, rather than struggling on their own to get the most out of this precious material. So that’s probably the most exciting thing.”

Understanding eczema

Jonathan Coquet’s primary research area at the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center will be to gain fundamental insights into eczema, which is typically an allergic disease. Unlike hayfever, where we typically know what is causing the allergic response (for instance grass or pollen), there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the causes of eczema.

“We know that T Cells are at the heart of allergic diseases, but in a disease like eczema, we have struggled to understand what T Cells are seeing and reacting to in the skin that leads to this inflammation. Why does this allergy kick off and how does it keep going?” says Jonathan Coquet.

Jonathan Coquet’s interest in T Cells started at the very beginning of his research career. Up until now, most of his research has been primarily done in mice, but technologies and possibilities to extract meaningful information from limited human samples have improved greatly.

“I am still interested in the fundamentals of the immune system, but the opportunity to do this now in humans is so much greater than it used to be,” he says.

By combining the BIOSKIN research program and new technologies that allow us to explore T Cells at great depth, the potential for future applications is high, he explains.

“If we can identify what in the environment causes eczema, or even proteins within our own bodies that contribute to this inflammation, we can develop diagnostics and prevent exposures to potentially harmful substances.”



Associate Professor Jonathan Coquet via sic@sund.ku.dk