Infection Medicine

Past Seminars

Past Seminars in Infection Medicine

From Neuroinflammation to cancer therapeutics

Professor Andrew Jackson, MRC Human Genetics Unit, MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine

Host: Dr Gracjan Michlewski

Monday 20th January 2020, Seminar room 5, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm


Over the last decade we have been working to understand how mutations in genes encoding the Ribonuclease H2 enzyme cause Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), a monogenic auto-inflammatory disorder.

This has led us to discover embedded ribonucleotides as the most common aberrant nucleotides in the mammalian genome.

Ribonucleotides cause replicative DNA damage due to their aberrant cleavage by Topoisomerase I, with resulting genomic lesions acting as frequent sites for PARP inhibitor trapping, a finding with cancer therapy utility.

Genomic instability in Ribonuclease H2-deficient cells leads to micronucleus formation and rupture, releasing chromatin into the cytosol to activate the cGAS/STING pathway, a key innate immune sensing pathway.

As well as suggesting a potential means by which mutations in this enzyme cause neuroinflammation, such micronuclear rupture provides a general mechanism for genome instability (GIN) and chromosome instability (CIN) to activate this nucleic acid-sensing pathway, implicating it as a key cell-intrinsic immune surveillance pathway countering oncogenic transformation. 

T-cell receptor signalling: from development to differentiation

Professor Linrong Lu, Vice Dean, ZJU UoE Institute

Host: Professor Till Bachmann

Tuesday 14th January 2020, Wellcome Auditorium, QMRI, **11:00AM-12:00PM**

Joint MSc Students' Seminar

Joint MSc Students' Seminar

  • 11:00 – 11:15: Lizzie Southam (Haas Group)11:15 – 11:30: Magdalena Unterer (Bachmann Group)

Chair: Prof Till Bachmann

Monday 16th December 2019, Seminar Room 6, Chancellor's Building 11:00 - 12:00pm.

Zika virus neurotropism and interactions with innate immunity

Professor Alain Kohl,  Professor of Arbovirology MRC, Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow

Host: Dr Richard Sloan

Monday 25th November 2019, Seminar room 5, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm


Zika virus is an emerging, mosquito-borne arbovirus that came to the attention of the public and the wider scientific/medical communities during the South American outbreak from 2015 onwards. Infection was linked with severe neurodevelopmental defects that eventually were classed into "Congenital Zika syndrome". Much work has been carried out to understand the effects of viral infection and tropism. Here I will present work on how Zika virus interacts with host responses, cellular tropism using mouse-derived neural cultures as well as effects of viral infection on these cells and how this may link to what is observed in patients.

The ubiquitin-like protein ISG15 in antiviral immunity and homeostasis

Dr David Hughes,  Lecturer, School of Biology, University of St Andrews

Host: Dr Gracjan Michlewski

Monday 11th November 2019, Seminar room 5, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm

Abstract: The ubiquitin-like protein (Ubl) ISG15 is strongly induced by interferon (IFN) and is critical for regulating how cells respond to infections. As a posttranslational modification (PTM), it can covalently modify proteins in a process known as ISGylation, and in many cases, modification of viral proteins forms part of the antiviral response. ISGylation is a reversable process, and de-ISGylation requires USP18. Importantly, loss-of-function mutations in ISG15 have been identified in patients with subsets of autoinflammatory interferonopathies and typically these patients showed elevated ISG expression in the absence of infection. This highlighted an entirely unexpected homeostatic function for ISG15, and understanding the mechanisms of this is a major focus in my group. This seminar will discuss our new findings showing that ISG15 is a critical component of the inhibitory process required for a regulated IFN response, and this achieved through co-option of a binding mechanism normally reserved for de-ISGylation.

Journeys into the genomic underworld: searching the 'dark genome’ for insights into virus evolution.

Dr Robert Gifford, Research Bioinformatician / Evolutionary Biologist (Centre for Virus Research), University of Glasgow

Genome sequence data contain an immense wealth of biological information, and are currently accumulating much faster than they are being analysed. For this reason, the structural and functional significance of most genomic DNA is incompletely understood. In this talk I describe how simple software tools can be used to explore poorly characterised (‘dark’) regions of the genomic landscape as represented in public sequence databases. Using examples from my own research I describe how this approach has revealed new insights into virus evolution, and show how it can be used to investigate the impact of interactions with viruses on the evolution of host species. 

Host: Dr Richard Sloan

Monday 28th October 2019, Seminar room 5, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm

Polylactic acid, a sustainable, biocompatible, transparent substrate material for Organ-On-Chip, and Microfluidic applications

Alfredo Edoardo Ongaro

Host: Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas

Monday 16th September 2019, Seminar room 5, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm

Trim25's role in innate immunity

Dr Nila Roy Choudhury, Infection Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Host: Dr Gracjan Michlewski

Monday 8th July 2019, Seminar room 4, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm

Identification of host factors affecting viral replication for translational research

Professor Jürgen Haas, Head of Division, Infection Medicine

Monday 24th June 2019, Seminar room 5, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm

What’s in your salad: implications of alternative hosts for foodborne disease

Dr Nicola Holden, Cell and Molecular Sciences, James Hutton Institute

Host: Dr Thamarai Schneiders

Biog: Nicola Holden is a molecular bacteriologist at the James Hutton Institute (Dundee), where she works on foodborne pathogens Escherichia coli O157:H7 and non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica. The focus is on the molecular basis of host & habitat adaptation by the bacteria to better understand transmission pathways. She has demonstrated that these foodborne pathogens can use plants as secondary or alternative hosts, uncovering adherence and colonisation mechanisms, as well as host defence responses. She has also screened environmental habitats for endemic and pathogenic bacteria. Here, she will provide an overview of the topic area and discuss the implications for human health under changing dietary influences.

Monday 10th June 2019, Seminar room 4, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm

Understanding E3 ligase mechanism with viruses and chemical biology

Dr Adam Fletcher, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee

Host: Dr Richard Sloan

Tuesday 28th May 2019, Seminar Room 6, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.

Statistics in medical research: what researchers should know and where to get help

Dr Gail Robertson, Statistical Consultant, Statistical Consultancy Unit, University of Edinburgh

Host: Professor Jurgen Haas

Monday 13th May 2019, Seminar Room 4, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


Gail works in the Statistical Consultancy Unit (SCU) at the University’s Centre for Statistics and School of Mathematics. SCU provides statistical consultancy and data analysis services to internal and external clients as well as to researchers from a range of different fields. Gail has extensive experience working in the biological sciences and can provide researchers with advice on sampling procedures, sample size calculations and how to analyse complex datasets. The SCU has previously worked with researchers in the CIR in preparing grant applications and is able to provide training in basic statistical analysis for biologists and in the statistical program R (see SCU have experience working with data from a range of relevant fields including epidemiology and medical statistics and are capable of working on short as well as long-term projects.

Human type I interferonopathies

Professor Yanick Crow, Principal Investigator, MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Host: Dr Gracjan Michlewski

Monday 29th April 2019, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


The dissection of the genetic basis of the rare inflammatory phenotype Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), and the definition of a primary link between nucleic acid metabolism and interferon signalling, led to the proposition, in 2011, of the grouping of Mendelian disorders demonstrating an up-regulation of type I interferon as a novel set of inborn errors of immunity, in which such up-regulation is central to pathogenesis. Since then our understanding of this field has developed, driven by an expansion in the number of relevant genotypes, mapping of the associated phenotypes, and the first attempts at targeted therapies. 


Decoding the pathway biology of early life asthma

Charlotte Henson, PhD student, Infection Medicine

Host: Professor Jürgen Schwarze


Despite 5.4million people living with asthma in the UK, the development of asthma and the differentiation of multiple endotypes is relatively unknown. Whole transcriptome analysis can be used to analyse lung epithelial samples and peripheral blood samples to study the effect asthma has on the immune system and the role genetics plays in developing the syndrome. Using statistical modelling and pathway analysis to map the chronic immune response seen in the lungs and the blood, we can advance our understanding of the mechanisms involved in asthma and potentially improve endotype diagnostics allowing for the enhancement of disease management plans

Monday 1st April 2019, Seminar room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00-13:00pm.


Joint MSc Students' Seminar

Joint MSc Students' Seminar

  • 12:00 – 12:15: Oliver Coombs OBrien (Schneiders Group) - Investigating the effects of RamA upregulation on the vesicle proteome
  • 12:15 – 12:30: Christina Tsirigoti (Sloan Group) - Characterising control of HIV infection by the cellular innate immune factor REAF/RPRD2
  • 12:30 – 12:45: Yizheng Yang (Haas Group) - The role of CEACAMs in Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) viral entry

Monday 18th February 2019, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


Barcoding, Biomarkers, Bacteroidetes and Bifidobacterium in the Gut Microbiota

Dr. Andrew Free, School of Biological Sciences, Universtiy of Edinburgh

Host: Dr. Thamarai Schneiders

Monday 18th March 2019, Seminar room 4, Chancellor's Building 12:00-13:00pm.


Whispering gallery modes biosensors for Zika virus detection

Dr. Arturo Bianchetti, CONICET, Argentina / Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, UK

Host: Dr Alvaro Jose Conde

Monday 4th March 2019, Seminar room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00-13:00pm.

Abstract:  Optical microresonators have attracted significant interest in various sensing applications. In whispering-gallery mode (WGM) microresonators, the light propagates inside the structure as a result of total internal reflection. WGM based biosensors have been developed as a label-free system to study the dynamics and interactions of biomolecules. The principle of detection is based on monitoring the resonance shift of optical whispering gallery modes in spheroidal resonators. The resonant recirculation of light in these resonators allows sampling target molecules multiple times providing very high sensitivity. Techniques based on whispering gallery mode biosensors (WGMBs) are non-invasive, label-free, ultra-sensitive and allow real-time quantitative detection of the release of specific biomarkers from cells. The major aim of this project is to improve the current WGMB sensing capability to detect and distinguish Zika Virus antigens and antibodies.


Infectious Etiology of Alzheimer Disease: Microbes and Mechanisms

Professor Richard Lathe, DIPM Honorary Fellow

Host: Professor Jürgen Haas

Monday 4th February 2019, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.

How can we use viral genome dinucleotide composition patterns for therapeutic strategies?

Dr Eleanor Gaunt, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The Roslin Institute 

Host: Professor Jürgen Haas

Monday 21 January 2019, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


DNA double strand break repair in bacteria

Dr Meriem El Karoui, Biological Sciences

Host: Thamarai Schneiders

Monday 26th November 2018, Seminar room 5, Chancellors Building 12:00-13:00pm


 Identification of novel host factors influencing human cytomegalovirus replication

Abraham Lee, PhD student, Roslin Institute

Host:  Dr Samantha Griffiths

Monday 19th November 2018, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


The role of TRAF2 in FMDV replication

Dr Sam Griffiths, Senior Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, DIPM

Monday Monday 12th November, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


Regulation of RNA processing and innate immune pathways by RNA-binding proteins

Dr Gracjan Michlewski, Principal Investigator, DIPM 

Monday Monday 29th October, Seminar Room 1, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.

Identification of novel polypeptides expressed from segment 2 of influenza A viruses that modulate the type I interferon response

Professor Paul Digard, Chair of Virology, Head of Infection & Immunity Division, The Roslin Institute

Host: Dr Richard Sloan

Monday 1st October 2018, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


Influenza A viruses (IAV) are a major group of pathogens that broadly infect mammalian and avian species which are the cause of annual epidemics and ocasional pandemics. IAV are Orthomyxoviruses containing an 8 segment negative-sense single-stranded RNA genome. They encode a "core" suite of ten polypeptides that are essential for virus replication. However, a diverse set of alternative translation events that produce additional viral polypeptides have been identified, that in total, more than double the number of polypeptides that the virus encodes. These "accessory" proteins are virus strain-dependent and produce a variable suite of low abundance polypeptides that are non-essential for virus replication but can nevertheless be significant in IAV biology. This talk will summarise evidence suggesting IAV segment 2 expresses two previously undescribed N-terminally truncated versions of PB1 which play a role in antagonising the host IFN response independently of RIG-I/TRIM25 but at the stage of the TBK1/IKKε complex.

LINE-1 Retrotransposition in Humans

Dr Jose Garcia-Perez, Principal Investigator, MRC Human Genetics Unit, IGMM

Host: Dr Richard Sloan

Monday 17th September, Seminar Room 4, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.

Transmission of Pig-related zoonoses along the Value Chain in Accra, Ghana

Dr Ayo Majekodunmi (Welburn Group), Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Zhejiang - UoE Institute

Host: Dr Kim Picozzi

Monday 17th July 2018, Seminar Room 5, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


Overview of Research Visit: Hygiene Institute-University of Sassari & HPV Research Group-University of Edinburgh

Itziar Serrano (Haas Group)

Title: "The role of SPZ1 in HPV-mediated carcinogenesis"

Narcisa Muresu (Cuschieri Group)

Title: "Overview of Research Visit: Hygiene Institute-University of Sassari & HPV Research Group-University of Edinburgh"

Monday 9th July 2018, Seminar Room 2, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.

DIPM MSc Students' Joint Seminar


  • Andrew Seaton - Haas Group
  • Saoirse Walse - Schneiders Group
  • Alex Bryan - Sloan Group
  • Ryan Lucas - Sloan Group

Monday 25th June 2018, Seminar Room 6, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


Uncovering the elusive role of HIV acessory protein Vpr

Dr Richard Sloan, Principal Investigator, DIPM

Monday 11th June 2018, Seminar Room 6, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


Solid drug nanoparticles for the treatment of TB & monitoring TB/HIV coinfections

Dr Samantha Donnellan - Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Host: Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy Kerhoas

Friday 8th June 2018, Seminar Room 4, Chancellor's Building 14:00 - 15:00pm.


Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is the leading cause of death from an infectious agent world-wide. Treatments are long and costly, taking a minimum of 6 months. The occurrence of multi-drug resistant TB is growing and makes treatment increasingly difficult. The doubling time of pathogenic mycobacteria is very slow, therefore the traditional colony counting technique for drug screening is time consuming and highly variable. This study is aimed at the development of a rapid, low cost assay for screening the antimicrobial properties of fresh therapeutics. Using GFP modified mycobacteria, fluorescence is monitored over 7 days to give a rapid insight into the anti-mycobacterial properties of compounds. Solid Drug Nanoparticles (SDN) of first-line antibiotics were screened against bacilli. SDNs, a novel development, are 50-fold more effective at killing mycobacteria than aqueous forms of the same drug and can target mycobacteria that have been internalised by macrophages. The work has now been adapted to study coinfections. TB infection of HIV-1 infected individuals occurs very frequently, and HIV-1 patients are more likely to develop active TB than non-HIV patients. Coinfection makes treatment of either disease very difficult, as many of the anti-TB drugs interact with antiretroviral therapy. Therefore, a method has also been developed to monitor coinfections and pathogen interactions under containment level 3 conditions for future drug screens using a microfluidics imaging platform.


Old signalling pathways and new technologies: PTEN, oncogenic signalling and 3D bioprinting tumours

Dr Nicholas Leslie - School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, Heriot Watt University

Host: Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy Kerhoas

Monday 28th May 2018, Seminar Room 6, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


How should we tackle multi-drug resistance evolution?

Dr Luke McNally - School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Host: Dr Thamarai Dorai-Schneiders

Monday 14th May 2018, Seminar Room 6, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


The evolution of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and particularly multi-drug resistance, poses one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Despite extensive research into the problem a firm evidence base for evaluating potential interventions to tackle AMR is largely lacking. I will discuss three key questions related to this challenge. Firstly, I will illustrate that metagenomic sampling of sewage provides a cost effective, practical and ethical method to monitor the spread of AMR globally. Secondly, I will show that despite a current focus on resistance to last-line antimicrobials such as carbapenems, tackling resistance to frontline drugs would have a larger public health benefit. Finally, I will show that there is a trade-off between the aggressiveness of antimicrobial therapy and the speed at which resistance spreads, but that this trade-off can be overcome at very high treatment efficacy, helping to guide the development of new treatments with greater evolutionary robustness.


MiRNA function and biogenesis in the antiviral response

Dr Sara Macias  - School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Host: Dr Gracjan Michlewski

Monday 30th April 2018, Seminar Room 6, Chancellor's Building 12:00 - 13:00pm.


MiRNAs are essential for many cellular processes including the antiviral response, where they can act as pro- or anti-viral factors. These small RNAs are also known to directly target the 3’UTR of interferons (IFNs) and interferon stimulated genes, which are central molecules of the antiviral response. However, the mechanisms that allow the balanced expression of these cytokines are still not completely understood.

MiRNAs are contained in long primary transcripts that are excised first by the Microprocessor complex in the nucleus, to be further processed by Dicer in the cytoplasm. Each step of miRNA maturation is extensively regulated, and Microprocessor function is known to be a major determinant in miRNA production. We have now shown that activation of the type-I IFN response remodels the expression of miRNAs in a post-transcriptional manner. Specifically, IFN affects the processing of precursor miRNAs by the Microprocessor complex, which leads to a transient depletion of specific miRNAs. Our findings support a model in which inhibition of miRNA production is an essential step during the activation of the IFN response to mount a robust antiviral state.

We will also discuss the nature of these interactions in the context of pluripotent ES cells, which are naturally devoid of an active IFN response and employ alternative antiviral mechanisms.