The interaction of neutrophils with adaptive immunity during inflammatory disease, with a focus on Multiple Sclerosis.
Historically, we have thought of neutrophils as indiscriminate killers which act in the early stages of infection or inflammation. Increasingly, however, we are finding that they have significant impact over the development of other aspects of the immune response – a role they perform with some specificity. In particular, the contents of their granules have been shown to impact the function of dendritic cells, T cells, and macrophages, both in infectious disease and ongoing inflammation.
We examine the influence of neutrophils on adaptive immunity, with a particular focus on Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic disease of the central nervous system. MS is increasing in incidence and Scotland has the highest rates worldwide. Neutrophils have been found at the site of disease in MS, but their role has so far been under-investigated, and we do not understand how they influence the development of the disease.
To probe this, we use human and mouse in vitro culture experiments, and mouse in vivo models of disease. We are mapping the impact of neutrophil granule contents on the development of adaptive immune responses, and examining whether we can correlate the presence of these mediators to the incidence and severity of Multiple Sclerosis in the population.
I graduated from Imperial College London in 2004 with a first class degree in Biochemistry. Following a Master’s year at Universitat de Barcelona, Spain, I returned to Imperial College to take up a PhD position with Professor Tracy Hussell. I examined the role of late T cell co-stimulation, particularly OX40 stimulation, in the development of immunopathology during inflammatory disease.
After my PhD I moved to London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to work with Dr Kevin Couper and Professor Eleanor Riley. We investigated early T cell signals through the IL-27 receptor and their impact on immunopathology in mouse models of malaria infection.
I then came to Edinburgh in 2012 to take up a post-doc position with Dr Donald Davidson, examining the neutrophil peptide LL-37 and its impact on the development of later immune responses.
In 2016 I was awarded a six-month Wellcome-ISSF2 grant to gain preliminary data on my independent project, and subsequently won a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship to set up my own research group.
Early Career Representative, British Society for Immunology Program Committee, 2012-2016
Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship