Character study: Michail ‘A2A’ Sitkovsky

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Like all humans, sci­en­tists come in every shape, size and color imag­in­able. Every now and then I run into a real char­acter. That is most cer­tainly the case with the sub­ject of my story on the News@Northeastern today. Pro­fessor Michail Sitkovsky is a burly man with a muti­nous brow and thick accent that makes every­thing he says sound simul­ta­ne­ously com­pli­cated and endearing.

In the early 2000’s, Sitkvosky made an impor­tant dis­covery for immunology, which has come to inform his research in cancer biology. He found that a par­tic­ular kind of receptor on the sur­face of immune cells is respon­sible for putting those cells to sleep. The receptor is called the adeno­sine A2A receptor and Sitkovsky told me that if his middle name wasn’t Vladimirovich, he’d like it to be A2A: “Michail ‘A2A’ Sitkovsky,” he chuckled.

But aside from being a great char­acter, he’s also a great story teller. I thought this story, which he told me to explain how A2A recep­tors are involved in immune cell inhi­bi­tion, was delightful. So how could I not share it with you?

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.