Department of Biology
My research focuses on the mammalian immune responses to parasitic worm infections. More than 25% of the population of the world is infected with a parasitic worm (helminth), and the global burden of these diseases disproportionately afflicts those in Low-Middle Income Countries (LMIC). Helminth infections are predominantly thought of as “disablers” rather than killers, and disease-associated morbidity leads to a very high cost as measured by disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). This is particularly true for schistosomiasis (>200 million infected).
Disease is currently controlled through curative chemotherapy administered in Mass Drug Administration programs (MDA), and this has undoubtedly reduced disease in some regions. However, people can rapidly become re-infected, and there are on-going concerns about the development of drug resistance.
We aim to answer two main and related questions: (1) How can we promote protective immune responses? (2) How does the worm try stop this? This work has been funded by the Global Challenge Research Fund, Academy of Medical Science and the Wellcome Trust.
My main research interest is in immune responses to parasitic infections, and this is reflected in my teaching of immunology and pathogen biology.
I give lectures in immunology to stage 1, 2 and 3 undergraduates. Stage 1 gives a broad overview of the mammalian immune system to act as a foundation for more complex concepts in stage 2 Immunology and Infection. I then concentrate on current research topics in stage 3 modules with a focus on immunology and parasite biology. I also lecture about parasite infections in stage 3.
My tutorials for stage 1 and 2 undergraduates introduce areas of immunology and pathogen biology that are not covered in the lectures. We also discuss different research methods and develop skills in data analysis.
Stage 3 projects are aligned with on-going research interests. We train students in laboratory techniques such as flow cytometry, cell culture, fluorescent microscopy and parasitology. We also offer bioinformatics and data analysis projects.