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Rachelly Normand, PhD




Research Fellow




Post-doc associate




Rachelly Normand1-5*, Pritha Sen1-6*, Alice Tirard1-3, John McGuire1-3, Benjamin Yale Arnold1-3, Jessica Tantivit1-3, Allen Steere1,3,5,7, George M. Lauer3,5,8, Maureen Leonard5,9, Michael Mansour1,6, Michelle Rengarajan1-5, Sisi Sarkizova4, Tom Eisenhaure4, Nir Hacohen2-5, Alexandra-Chloé Villani1-5

Redefining blood cell states and their functionality across diseases

I’m a computational post-doc in Dr. Chloe Villani’s lab where I study human autoimmunity and infectious diseases in blood, thyroid, and lung tissues. I aim at pursuing an academic position and study immunology of pregnancy using computational approaches to analyze high-throughput omics. I’m specifically interested in studying human pregnancy as a model for healthy immune tolerance, and the maternal-fetal interface during a maternal infection. I want to participate in the Women in Medicine and Science Symposium to present my work and get important feedback, as well as to facilitate connections with scientists and clinicians at MGH to foster future collaborations.


Blood is the most interrogated human specimen which informs scientific inquiry and directs clinical care. Yet, there is no complete Human Immune Cell Atlas that delineates the full spectrum of blood cell states across perturbations, thus limiting our understanding of circulating immune cell functionality in health and disease.


We collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with 6 immune-mediated diseases (20 patients/disease), including auto-immune and infectious diseases and healthy controls. We implemented a unique experimental design to profile rare immune cell populations and concurrently measure RNA and protein expression at the single-cell resolution.


We identified immune cell populations which are shared across conditions and others which are unique to specific disease states. Specifically, we identified that NK cells have variable gene expression signatures across diseases, revealing surprising similarities between some diseases. Co-expression analysis of gene programs from different cell states can show how different cells operate together in different diseases.


This compendium will be the largest single-cell blood atlas described to date, both in magnitude of cells and in diversity of perturbations. This novel resource will provide a catalogue of the full spectrum of blood cells, empowering the comparison of immune-mediated disease mechanisms with unprecedented granularity.