Estefania Quesada-Masachs, MD, PhD

Dr. Quesada-Masachs received her MD degree at University of Barcelona (UB). She completed the residency in Rheumatology and a 2-year training program in Pediatric Rheumatology at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (Spain), where she worked as a consultant until early 2018. She did a fellowship at Istituto Giannina Gaslini (Italy), Center of Excellence in Pediatric Rheumatology according to the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). Dr Quesada-Masachs completed her PhD in Pediatric Rheumatology at Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with a cum laude and the mention as an international doctor. Her PhD thesis was focused on identifying immunological differences in relation to age and treatment in patients with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Following her PhD, she joined Prof. von Herrath’s lab, at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (California) as a post-doctoral fellow, where she focused on studying the role that different immune cells, cytokines and other signaling molecules play in disease initiation and progression in autoimmune type 1 diabetes. During that time, she contributed to solve a long-standing controversy in the type 1 diabetes (T1D) field, demonstrating that beta cells can upregulate HLA class II expression in T1D and in vitro after receiving inflammatory stimulus.

Following her appointment as an instructor at la Jolla Institute for Immunology, Dr Quesada-Masachs was awarded with an R01. In her position at the Diabetes Research Institute and the University of Miami she investigates the pathogenesis and mechanisms causing autoimmune diseases. To date, Dr Quesada-Masachs has published manuscripts in top tier journals, has been invited to present her work at national and international meetings and conferences and has been acknowledged for her work. For example, in 2023, Dr. Quesada-Masachs was recognized by the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD) with the Young Investigator of the Year Award.

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Dr. Quesada-Masachs conducts research to understand the role of the immune system in T1D and the local events that occur in the pancreas during different stages of the disease. Her ultimate aim is to develop new therapies to prevent or reverse T1D. Because human pancreatic tissue is difficult to access, she relies on collaborations and innovative tools to study the disease.

In her lab, Dr. Quesada-Masachs has access to high-quality human pancreatic tissues through collaborations with organizations like the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD). These tissues allow her to study the specific processes happening in human T1D. She also works with advanced technologies such as the Orion slide scanner, which enables her to analyze multiple proteins simultaneously in tissue sections. Additionally, she utilizes machine learning algorithms for image analysis, confocal microscopy for detailed imaging, and flow cytometry for cell analysis.

Overall, Dr. Quesada-Masachs’ research aims to fill gaps in our understanding of T1D by studying human tissues and using cutting-edge technologies. This approach enables her to gather detailed information about the disease processes, ultimately leading to better therapeutic strategies.

 

MAIN RESEARCH PROJECTS

  • Characterization of specificity and phenotype of pancreatic CD8 T cells in human Type 1 Diabetes

Dr. Quesada-Masachs’ project focuses on understanding the behavior of specific immune cells called CD8 T cells in the pancreas of individuals with T1D. By studying tissue samples, she aims to identify the characteristics of these cells and how they contribute to the disease. Her research involves advanced imaging techniques and collaborations to analyze multiple proteins in the tissue simultaneously.

 

  • Expression of HLA class II, S100 proteins and cytokines in human pancreatic tissue sections and functional implications of HLA class II expression by human beta cells in Type 1 Diabetes

This project investigates the role of certain proteins, including HLA class II, in the pancreas of individuals with T1D. Dr. Quesada-Masachs’ research suggests that pancreatic cells may play a direct role in immune responses in T1D. By studying tissue sections and conducting functional studies with human isolated islets and organoids, she aims to understand how these proteins influence the disease process.

 

  • Characterization of macrophage infiltration in autoantibody positive and Type 1 Diabetic donors

Dr. Quesada-Masachs’ research explores the presence and behavior of immune cells called macrophages in the pancreas of individuals with T1D and those with autoantibodies indicating potential future T1D development. By characterizing these cells, she hopes to uncover their role in disease initiation and progression, potentially leading to new therapeutic targets.

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