Dr Iris Mair

Contact details



Ashworth Laboratories
Charlotte Auerbach Road
The King's Buildings

Post code


  • 2007-2010: BSc in Biomedicine, Julius Maximilian University of Wurzburg, Germany
  • 2010-2011: MSc by Research in Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 2011-2012: Research Position at Novartis, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2013-2016: PhD in Immunology, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 2016-2017: Postdoc in Immunology, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 2018-2022: Postdoc in Ecoimmunology, University of Manchester, UK
  • 2022: NERC Discipline Hopping Fellow (3 months), University of Manchester, UK
  • 2022-2023: Wellcome and University of Manchester EDI Perera Fellow, University of Manchester, UK
  • 2023-present: Researcher Co-Investigator, University of Edinburgh

Research summary

Immune regulation, including tolerance and repair mechanisms, are a critical aspect of the immune system to keep autoimmune, allergic and inflammatory disease at bay. In the complex and changing environment humans and animals live in, how is adequate immune regulation maintained?

The majority of immunological knowledge we have today has been gained from laboratory studies, primarily using inbred mouse strains as model organisms held under defined conditions. This approach is instrumental in gaining precise mechanistic insight into how the immune system functions. Yet, animals, including humans, live in an uncontrolled environment and contend with a multitude of environmental changes and challenges at once, and across their lifetime - from microbial diversity to pathogen encounter to seasonal weather changes.

With a strong background in mechanistic immunology, I have turned towards the discipline of Ecoimmunology, an upcoming interdisciplinary research area which aims to understand the causes and consequences of immune variation by studying wild or semi-wild animals. The incorporation of naturally-occurring environmental and host-intrinsic variables more closely represents how an animal’s immune system is shaped throughout a lifetime. This is achieved by combining the seemingly opposing strengths of ecology (uncovering broad patterns within a naturally diverse study population) and immunology (mechanistic insight into immune functions by minimising variation in a controlled model system). Within the framework of the One Health approach, building bridges across these two disciplines and insights from this work will have implications for both public health and livestock/wild animal health and thereby conservation efforts.

Especially at barrier sites such as the gut or the skin, which are constantly exposed to external stimuli, the immune system has the challenging role of striking the balance between controlling infections, promoting immunological tolerance against innocuous or commensal antigens, and limiting immunopathology. By combining mechanistic immunology with field-based ecological study design, I aim to investigate how immune regulation is achieved and maintained under diverse pressures in animals in their natural habitat. I aim to build on these insights through comparative studies across species and habitats, as well as through field-to-lab and lab-to-field experimental designs, to enable a holistic understanding of the factors supporting immune regulation, a cornerstone to mammalian health.