Dr Joanna Young

MRC Research Fellow

  • Institute for Immunology and Infection Research
  • School of Biological Sciences

Contact details



2.55 Ashworth Laboratories
Charlotte Auerbach Road
Kings Buildings

Post code


I am fascinated by the interaction of pathogens and their hosts during infection. Many bacteria and parasites use secreted proteins to subvert the host cell, defend against the immune repsonse and set up an ideal environment for their survival. During my PhD I investigated pathogenic bacteria and their disruption of host cell signaling to prevent phagocytosis. For my postdoctoral research I moved to parasitology to study the single cellparasite Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma is a master at subverting its host and uses over 200 secreted proteins to invade host cells and establish its niche. I have investigated the phosphorylation of secreted proteins and set up CRISPR screening  to identify which secreted proteins are required for a successful infection. I will now focus on the chronic stage of Toxoplasma where the parasite forms cysts predominantly in the central nervous system. I will use high-throughput techniques to determine how Toxoplasma secreted proteins facilitate the chronic stage of parasite infection.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

Toxoplasma gondii infects ~1/3rd of the human population and establishes long-term chronic infection, forming intracellular cysts predominantly in the brain. Reactivation of chronic parasites causes fatal encephalitis in the immunocompromised and substantial ocular disease. Despite the chronic cyst being critical for both transmission and pathology of the disease, we understand little of how the cyst forms and subverts the host. Importantly, chronic stage parasites upregulate and secrete putative effector proteins suggesting they are required for the unique biology of chronic infection. My lab will investigate how secreted proteins facilitate chronic infection and the formation of the parasite cyst, to identify requirements and vulnerabilities of this undruggable parasite stage. 

Orcid ID - https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6417-928X (publications will update on the profile soon....)