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 ongoing 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 to stop this? We are funded by the MRC and have also received funding from the Academy of Medical Science and GCRF.
My main research interest is in immune responses to parasitic infections, and this is reflected in my teaching of immunology and pathogen biology.
I am module organiser for the Stage 2 module "The Immune System" and teach various aspects of innate and adaptive immunity. I lecture about parasitic worm infections in Stage 3 Pathogens, and also teach on the Stage 2 Pharmacology module.
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.
We align BSc and Masters projects with our ongoing research questions. Students gain expertise in techniques such as flow cytometry, cell culture, fluorescent microscopy and parasitology. We also offer bioinformatics and data analysis projects.