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I got my BSc. in Biochemistry at Universidad de La República in Montevideo - Uruguay. My scientific career started while studying the plasticity of uterine nerves in the rat followed by 3 years discovering new adjuvants for vaccine development at the Instituto de Higiene in Montevideo. Because of my experience in immunology I moved to New York City where I worked in a dendritic cell biology laboratory studying the migration of these cells in atherosclerotic plaques of Apo E knockout mice. After a few years I decided to start the PhD studies at New York University. I used this as an opportunity to start something new and I had the luck of being offered a very interesting project using electron microscopy to answer a question about a specific step during the activation process of CD4+ T lymphocytes. By using electron tomography I found that during immunological synapse formation, CD4+ T lymphocytes release T cell receptor - enriched vesicles. These vesicles serve as an intercellular communication device that activate antigen presenting cells in in vitro settings.

At the University of Bern in Switzerland I worked developing new cryo methods to preserve very small cardiomyocyte -fibroblast heterocellular contacts in mouse and human hearts. I performed high pressure freezing on small heart biopsies followed by freeze substitution plus additional round of staining to make the samples suitable for either Serial Block Face - Scanning Electron Microscopy  (SBF - SEM) or electron tomography. Furthermore, I became knowledgeable in the preparation and handling of samples for cryo electron tomography. I learned to use the automated plunge freezing robot for preparing vitrified samples on electron microscopy grids. Finally, I mastered the preparation and collection of vitreous cryosections for analysis of high pressure frozen tissues with cryo electron tomography for cell biology applications.


Research Interests:

  • Use of SBF - SEM for generation of 3D datasets to reveal the fine structure of cells and tissues
  • Find ways to limit sample charging thus enabling SEM imaging at high vacuum conditions
  • Array tomography to generate medium size 3D datasets at high axial and lateral resolution
  • Use of deep learning algorithms for segmentation of data from different electron microscopy modalities



Key publications: 

1. Llodrá, J. (2017). Ultrastructure of Immune Synapses. In The Immune Synapse (pp. 399-407). Humana Press, New York, NY.

2. Choudhuri, K., Llodrá, J., Roth, E. W., Tsai, J., Gordo, S., Wucherpfennig, K. W., ... & Dustin, M. L. (2014). Polarized release of T-cell-receptor-enriched microvesicles at the immunological synapse. Nature, 507(7490), 118-123.

3. Milstein, O., Tseng, S. Y., Starr, T., Llodra, J., Nans, A., Liu, M., ... & Dustin, M. L. (2008). Nanoscale increases in CD2-CD48-mediated intermembrane spacing decrease adhesion and reorganize the immunological synapse. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283(49), 34414-34422.

4. Angeli, V., Ginhoux, F., Llodrà, J., Quemeneur, L., Frenette, P. S., Skobe, M., ... & Randolph, G. J. (2006). B cell-driven lymphangiogenesis in inflamed lymph nodes enhances dendritic cell mobilization. Immunity, 24(2), 203-215.

5. Llodrá, J., Angeli, V., Liu, J., Trogan, E., Fisher, E. A., & Randolph, G. J. (2004). Emigration of monocyte-derived cells from atherosclerotic lesions characterizes regressive, but not progressive, plaques. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101(32), 11779-11784.

EM Specialist

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MRC Toxicology Unit
Gleeson Building
Tennis Court Road


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