Luka Mesin

2021 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Luka Mesin

Current Position:
Research Associate

The Rockefeller University


Recognized for: Luka Mesin, PhD, uses novel techniques to better understand how B cells in our immune system mature and evolve to create antibodies to fight off pathogens. Upon immunization or infection, specific B cells are selected based on their antibody’s ability to bind to the invading pathogen. Mesin discovered that, in addition to the small number of B cells that produce strongly-binding antibodies, immunization also results in a selection of B cells that produce weakly-binding antibodies. This diversity of B cell selection prepares the immune system to fight a mutated version of the pathogen. As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, understanding antibody production and selection is more relevant than ever particularly when selecting appropriate booster vaccinations.

Luka Mesin

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Immunology, B-Cell, Antibodies, Germinal Center

Previous Positions:

BS, University of Padua, Italy 
MS, University of Trieste, Italy 
PhD, Centre for Immune Regulation, University of Oslo, Norway (Advisor: Ludvig M. Sollid) 
Postdoctoral Associate, The Rockefeller University (Advisor: Dr. Gabriel D. Victora) 

Research Summary:

The ability to generate a rapid and potent antibody response against invading pathogens is key to our ability to resist infectious disease. Luka Mesin, PhD, uses novel techniques to better understand B cell clonal dynamics. Each B cell produces a unique antibody, and due to Mesin’s research, we have a greater understanding of how B cell clonal selection occurs. Following immunization or infection, B cells begin to proliferate in lymph nodes. These B cells undergo a selection process based on the affinity of the antibodies they produce to bind to the pathogen, a trait called antibody affinity. Mesin found that upon immunization, in addition to a small number of high-affinity B cell clones being selected, immunization also results in a selection of diverse, low-affinity B cell clones. These low-affinity B cell clones may be critical in case the organism encounters a mutated version of the pathogen.

Mesin also discovered that upon secondary exposure to the same pathogen, only a small fraction of the diverse B cell clones are rapidly recruited for antibody production, resulting in a potent but less diverse antibody response. These findings are of considerable importance to public health because they help us understand how a mutated virus, such as a COVID variant, can escape a non-diverse antibody response. Furthermore, understanding how and which B cell clones get reactivated can provide a framework for designing booster vaccines towards novel viral variants.

"What motivates me in science is the challenge of expanding my imagination in rigorous pursuit of understanding fundamental biological principles. It is a remarkable honor and truly inspiring to have my work acknowledged by the Blavatnik Family Foundation."

Key Publications:

  1. L. Mesin et al. Restricted Clonality and Limited Germinal Center Reentry Characterize. Memory B Cell Reactivation by Boosting. Cell, 2020.
  2. C.R. Nowosad, L. Mesin et al. Tunable dynamics of B cell selection in gut germinal centres. Nature, 2020.
  3. J.M. Tas, L. Mesin et al. Visualizing antibody affinity maturation in germinal centers. Science, 2016.

Other Honors:

2016National Institute of Allergy and Infections Disease Scholarship
2012Early Stage Researcher of Marie Curie Network Fellowship, European Commission


In the Media: 

EurekaAlert! – B-cell diversity in immune system's germinal centers may be key to broad-spectrum vaccines

The Rockefeller University, Science News – New clues about why a universal flu vaccine is so elusive

Futurity – For a universal flu vaccine, improve immune cell memory?

Cell – It’s Hard to Teach an Old B Cell New Tricks


Website - Victora Lab