My research focuses on understanding the signals that dictate macrophage behaviour in the healthy lung and during successful tissue repair so that these signals can be promoted or targeted when macrophages begin to behave abnormally in disease.
Dr Anika Schridde, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
All tissues of the body are populated with a mixture of immune cells that help protect the body from invasion by microbes. In many tissues the most abundant immune cell is the macrophage. Macrophages are strategically positioned to capture and destroy microbial intruders, but also clear dead cells and orchestrate tissue repair after injury or infection. However, in some people the tissue repair functions of macrophages can become uncontrolled leading to excessive repair, unconstrained scar formation (fibrosis) and organ dysfunction. For instance, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an incurable, devastating, deadly disease where progressive scarring of the lung is believed to involve macrophages with overactive and aberrant behaviour. Importantly, macrophages are very flexible cells and are easily influenced by their environment, therefore holding great promise as therapeutic targets. Thus, our work focusses on understanding the local environmental cues that determine macrophage identity and function in the healthy lung and how these change during disease, which will be vital for designing novel macrophage-targeted therapies for disease.
We will use a combination of multi-parameter flow cytometry, in vivo live imaging and transcriptional profiling to determine the heterogeneity and function of the pulmonary macrophage subsets during health and disease. This will be complemented with novel transgenic approaches to specifically target these macrophage populations to determine the role of key cytokines in controlling macrophage function in different tissue contexts.
I graduated from the University of Glasgow with a BSc in Immunology in 2007. I was then awarded an MRC PhD studentship from the University of Glasgow and worked with Professor Allan Mowat in the Centre for Immunobiology to investigate the role of macrophages in intestinal homeostasis and disease, for which I was awarded the Joseph Black Medal and Alan Hird Prize in Medicine for the top PhD thesis in the School of Medicine. After completing my PhD in 2012, I continued to work in the Mowat group, where I led their Wellcome Trust funded studies exploring the origin of intestinal macrophages. Collectively, my work demonstrated for the first time that unlike most tissue macrophages, those in the gut wall require constant replenishment by circulating monocytes, in a process that is, in part, dependent on the microbiota. In June 2014 I moved to work with Dr Stephen Jenkins at the Centre for Inflammation Research (CIR) at the University of Edinburgh to take advantage of the plethora of tools available for macrophage research and in vivo fate mapping of myeloid cells. In February 2017, I was awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust/Royal Society to establish my own lab within the CIR.
Active member of the CIR Public Engagement Committee. Attend the Edinburgh International Science Festival to help deliver the 'Amazing Immunology' workshop.
Co-chairperson of the Edinburgh Immunology Group, a regional group of the British Society for Immunology.
Organiser of the 'Macrophages@QMRI', a research interest group for macrophage biologists at Edinburgh University
Professor Moira Whyte, CIR - Fellolwship sponsor
Professor Jeffrey Pollard, Centre for Reproductive Health
Professor Bernard Malissen and Dr Sandrine Henri, CIML, Marseille, France
Professor Martin Guilliams, VIB, Ghent, Belgium
Professor Björn Clausen, University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany