Character study: Michail ‘A2A’ Sitkovsky

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.