Cafe Scientifique – Stockton on Tees

7.45pm, Tuesday 16 May 2023

We are delighted to be joined by

Catharien Hilkens and Katarina Novakovic

Professor of Immunotherapy Reader in Polymer Engineering

Newcastle University Newcastle University

How to train your immune system: innovative new ways to treat autoimmune diseases


We look forward to seeing you in ARC for our May Cafe to find out more about advances in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

A well-functioning immune system is critical to our health. It has a large range of ‘weapons’ at its disposal to eliminate invading pathogens. At the same time, the immune system has strict safeguards in place to prevent collateral damage. However, when these safeguards become ineffective, the immune system gets out of control and mounts an aggressive attack on a person’s own tissues, causing autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or type I diabetes. In this talk, we will discuss a new therapeutic approach for autoimmune diseases that involves sending the immune system ‘back to school’ for further training and how we can make use of intelligent polymeric materials to achieve this.

About our speakers

Catharien Hilkens is a Professor of Immunotherapy at Newcastle University. She obtained her PhD in Immunology at the University of Amsterdam, after which she became a research fellow at Cancer Research UK in London. In 2003 she joined Newcastle University, where she set up a research group that aims to develop innovative immunotherapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, with a particular focus on rheumatoid arthritis.

Katarina Novakovic is a Reader in Polymer Engineering at Newcastle University. She obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering from Belgrade University, after which she worked in the pharmaceutical industry before obtaining a PhD from Newcastle University in the area of mathematical modelling of polymerization processes. Her research focuses on the development of technologies aimed at sustainable living, spanning from engineered polymeric materials for novel pharmaceutical formulations to technologies aimed at plastic waste reduction and management.

Our website

Our website contains a list of all the talks we have held since we were set up in January 2004 and the up and coming talks for this season. Find out more at