Scientific project

Thomas Marichal awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant for his MoMacTrajectALI project

In Research Projet de recherche

Thomas Marichal, director of the Immunophysiology Laboratory and Welbio investigator at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Biomedical Sciences (GIGA) at the University of Liège, has been selected to receive an ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council for his MoMacTrajectALI project. This prestigious funding - worth two million euros - has been awarded to pursue his research into the mechanisms of lung regeneration following respiratory infections such as Covid-19 or influenza, ultimately leading to the development of new therapeutic strategies to counter excessive damage and prevent severe forms of the disease. 


he lung is a vital organ that contributes to gas exchange. It is particularly exposed to external threats, such as respiratory pathogens, pollutants, and other airborne particles. The pulmonary immune system must constantly deal with these in order to protect the host while maintaining the structure and function of the lung. Sometimes, abnormal immune responses can occur and trigger the development of disorders such as asthma or severe forms of respiratory infections. The mechanisms underlying lung tissue repair are therefore of fundamental biological importance and have critical implications for the prevention of excessive inflammatory reactions and life-threatening tissue damage.  To date, the complexity of lung macrophages (innate immune cells) after infection is far from resolved. "I have always been fascinated by understanding the innate immune mechanisms involved in maintaining lung tissue homeostasis and regulating pulmonary inflammatory disorders", explains Thomas Marichal, a researcher at GIGA and the WEL-Research Institute. Using disease models and relevant human samples, he has discovered the main triggers of asthma, as well as important protective cells that prevent its development in healthy people. Building on his recognized expertise in macrophage biology, he is now using the most advanced technologies to understand how these cells behave and interact with others in order to reveal their diversity and functional specificity.

With this in mind, the MoMacTrajectALI project, which is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council, aims to investigate the trajectories of monocytes into macrophages in tissue following lung damage induced by respiratory viral infections (influenza, Covid-19), in order to provide robust foundations for developing new therapeutic strategies to stimulate lung repair and lung immunity following damage.


Monocytes trajectories ©Adeline Deward (Illumine)

The illustration depicts several trajectories that monocytes can undertake once recruited to the damaged lung. Understanding the spatio-temporal and molecular regulation of such trajectories will ultimately allow their manipulation to devise novel therapeutic strategies. ©Adeline Deward (Illumine)

About Thomas Marichal

Thomas Marichal graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and obtained a doctorate in Immunology in 2011 at the University of Liège, Belgium. He completed a post-doctoral training at Stanford University (California, USA) from 2011 to 2014. Back to ULiège, Thomas Marichal was appointed as a FNRS research associate in 2016, then became a Welbio investigator and obtained an ERC Starting Grant in 2018. He was appointed Associate Professor in the field of Animal Physiology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Liège in 2019. Currently, Thomas Marichal heads the Immunophysiology laboratory at the Interdisciplinary Research Institute in biomedical sciences (GIGA) from the University of Liège. He is the laureate of numerous national and international awards, including the prestigious Baillet Latour Biomedical Award.

Thomas Marichal's work focuses on the biology of lung myeloid cells in health and disease and has been published in renowned journals in the field of Immunology and Medicine (Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Immunity, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation, etc.).



Team Labo Immunophysiologie

The GIGA Immunophysiology Laboratory team (from left to right and top to bottom) : Valentine Buyck (Assistant), Wen Peng (Doctoral student), Laura Kempen (Doctoral student), Domien Vanneste (Doctoral student), Cecilia Ruscitti (Doctoral student), Margot Meunier (Doctoral student), Pauline Marechal (Technician), Coraline Radermecker (Post-doctoral student, FNRS), Pierre Janssen (Assistant), Thomas Marichal, Joan Abinet (Bioinformatician).  ©University of Liège

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