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Professor Tao Dong

Tao DongProfessor of Immunology, Director (Oxford) CAMS Oxford Institute.

The main objective of my group’s research is to focus on the functional aspects of the antigen specific T cells and studying the factors affecting T cells in controlling virus infection and cancer development.

For important human infections, cancer development and the course of disease is influenced mainly by the T cell response - while a robust and appropriate T cell response is beneficial to the host, a weak or inappropriate response can be ineffective or even have a detrimental effect. Numerous factors influence the quality of the T cell response to viral infections, predominant among them being the microenvironment of the infection site, the type of cells infected and the variability of the virus. 

To define the impact of IFTIM3 genetic variation on Influenza, and other virus infection, immune responses and disease outcome

To study the Viral OncoProtein(VOP) and Tumor Specific Protein(TSP) specific T cell responses in virus associated cancer (I.e. HBV/HCC; EBV/NPC and HPV/CC)

To identify the factors determining functional avidity and anti-viral/cancer efficacy of antigen specific T cells in cancer micro-environment.

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Professor Christopher Conlon

Chris P Conlon FRCP
Professor of Infectious Disease, Clinical Director CAMS Oxford Institute

He collaborates with colleagues in HIV research and is currently on the trial steering committee of the RIVER study, a proof of principle trial of HDAC inhibitors and HIV vaccine use in an attempt to ‘cure’ HIV. He also runs the TB service in Oxford and collaborates with colleagues using whole genome sequencing to improve diagnoses.

Professor Conlon also has oversight of the Tropical Medicine Group. He is a Fellow and Tutor in Clinical Medicine at Oriel College, Oxford and regularly teaches Oxford medical. In addition, he is Principal Examiner in Medicine in Oxford and Chair of the Royal College of Physicians Joint Specialty Committee for Infectious Diseases.

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Mr Darren Nash

Darren NashAssociate Head of Department, NDM Oxford Subsidiary Company Non-Executive Director, Strategic and Finance Director, CAMS Oxford Institute

Darren is the Associate Head of Department for academic support, finance and human resources at the Nuffield Department of Medicine. In this role he is responsible for all business management functions and all non-academic staff in the Department, including major activities and units in Oxford, Kenya, Vietnam, Thailand and China.

He is also a Director of three university subsidiary companies. He has an MBA from Oxford’s Said Business School, and combined with 25 years experience in this global research environment provides support and training to partner organisations to facilitate research.

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 Professor Vincenzo Cerundolo

Vincenzo Cerundolo

1959-2020

Professor of Immunology (FRS)

The principal aim of research in Professor Cerundolo's laboratory was to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that control the cell-cell interplay required for optimal expansion and activation of tumour-specific T cell populations and to apply this knowledge to the development of better treatment strategies in cancer patients. Research in his laboratory was divided into three complementary areas:

Analysis of tumour-specific immune responses in melanoma patients and the role of the tumour micro-environment in hampering tumour-specific immune responses; Structural, kinetic and functional analyses of invariant NKT (iNKT) cell activation; Clinical trial vaccine programme in melanoma patients.

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 Professor Richard Cornall

Richard CornallProfessor of Immunology

Our aim is to understand how the immune system is formed and regulated and the causes of autoimmunity, particularly the systemic autoimmune diseases, and the development and selection of B cells. Adverse immunological reactions to self and foreign antigens that lead to autoimmune or inflammatory disease place a major economic and social burden on world health and individual quality of life. We are also interested in how people differ in their inherited susceptibility to these diseases and why these differences are sustained in human populations by natural selection. Advances in this area will have a large and impact on the management of human disease.

Our strategy involves research programmes in basic biology and in clinical medicine. In the first, we use transgenic models to investigate how lymphocytes function in health and in human disease and how our genes encode susceptibility to autoimmunity and immunodeficiency. In the second, which is a collaboration with Professor Simon Davis, we are developing ways to change the function of lymphocytes, turning them on in cancer and off during inflammation or autoimmunity.

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Dr Ricardo Fernandes

20200827_175429_google_v3.jpgGroup Leader - Cancer Immunology

The main objective of our research group is to identify key functional aspects affecting anti-tumor responses by T cells. To do this, we use protein engineering, guided by structural and signaling information, to generate novel molecules that allow us to explore and interrogate key aspects of receptor signaling and T cell function. We are currently focusing our efforts in developing molecules to overcome “inhibitory” signaling by immune checkpoint receptors and to enhance signaling by the T-cell receptor. 

Ricardo Fernandes recently joined CAMS Oxford Institute coming from Stanford where he developed novel molecules to effectively shut down signaling by immune receptors such as PD-1. 

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Professor Doug Higgs

Douglas HiggsProfessor of Molecular Haematology (FRS), Head MRC Molecular Haematology Unit

Our laboratory is interested in the general question of how mammalian genes are switched on and off during lineage commitment and differentiation. We study genes (e.g. globin) in detail and also study gene expression using genome wide analyses. We study all aspects of gene expression including the key cis-regulatory elements (enhancers, promoters and insulators), the transcription factors and co-factors that bind them, the epigenetic modifications of chromatin and DNA and the role of associated phenomena such as chromosome conformation and nuclear sub-compartmentalisation using imaging techniques.

These studies are performed both in cell systems and in model organisms as well as in human patients with various inherited and acquired genetic and epigenetic abnormalities. The translational goal of this work is to develop new ways to modify gene expression during blood formation with the aim of manipulating gene expression and ameliorating the clinical phenotypes of patients with a variety of blood disorders.

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Professor Ling-Pei Ho

Ling-Pei HoAssociate Professor Respiratory Medicine 

We are interested in how immunological responses impact on mechanisms of lung injury and repair. The projects are divided into mechanistic and translational studies. The mechanistic studies question how innate immune cells like iNKT cells, MDSCs and monocyte-macrophage lineage impact on outcome in severe influenza virus infection and progression of lung fibrosis. These studies inform, drive and allow us to test mechanistic hypotheses in/from our human work.

In the translational space, our focus is on new or improved therapy for lung fibrosis. Our diseases of interest are idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and fibrotic sarcoidosis, and we target the interface between cellular immunology, disease mechanisms and early clinical trials. 

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PROFESSOR Peter Horby

PeterHorby.jpgProfessor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health 

Peter Horby is Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health.  He is the former, and founding, Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Hanoi, Vietnam. The unit was established in early 2006 and conducts research on infectious diseases which crosses the disciplines of basic science, medical science and public health.

Peter returned to Oxford in 2014 and established the Epidemic disease Research Group Oxford (ERGO). ERGO is engaged in an international program of clinical and epidemiological research to prepare for and respond to emerging infections that may develop into epidemics or pandemics. ERGO is involved in a number of international projects including the European Commission funded PREPAREproject, and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC). The group is conducting research on a range of epidemic diseases including Ebola virus disease, bird flu (H5N1 and H7N9), MERS-CoV, and Enterovirus 71. ERGO currently comprises a team of eight people under the leadership of Professor Peter Horby and is funded by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council, and the European Commission.

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Professor E. Yvonne Jones

E. Yvonne JonesProfessor of Protein Crystallography (FRS), Joint Head Division of Structural Biology, NDM

Yvonne Jones is Director of the Cancer Research UK Receptor Structure Research Group which is focused on the structural biology of extracellular recognition and signalling complexes. The group's core techniques include protein crystallography and, increasingly, cryo electron microscopy, which are used to generate high resolution structural information. Importantly, studies using these techniques are integrated with advanced light microscopy and cryo electron tomography, as well as cell-based functional studies, to probe molecular mechanisms at the cell surface.

The group's research addresses fundamental questions about cell-cell signalling systems of importance to human health. The work ties into an extensive network of interdisciplinary local and international collaborations with the ultimate aim of learning how to manipulate these signalling systems for the design of new clinical therapies. Current projects within the group focus on signalling systems of importance in developmental biology.

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Professor Benedikt Kessler

Benedikt KesslerProfessor of Biochemistry and Mass Spectrometry

We intend to analyze a particular subset of the deubiquitylating enzyme family, containing an ovarian tumor domain (OTU). This conserved motif encodes for a potential cysteine protease, and is conserved throughout evolution. However, the function of this class of proteins is largely unknown. An approach based on a tandem affinity purification strategy will be established to determine protein interaction partners. A proteomics screen for protease substrate discovery will be established to identify substrates and provide entry points for genetic and biochemical analyses of their function.

Our studies indicate a central role for OTUs, in particular OTUB1, in regulating cell invasion and morphology by modulating the stability of small GTPases. The impact of these molecular interactions are studied within the context of host-pathogen interactions and tumourigenesis.

 
 

Professor Julian Knight

Julian KnightProfessor of Genomic Medicine Deputy Director Graduate Studies

My research aims to understand how genetic variation impacts genes critical to mounting an appropriate immune response and may contribute to susceptibility to infectious, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. There is a wide spectrum of genetic variation modulating inter-individual differences in immune response with functional consequences ranging from severe primary immunodeficiency disorders to risk of multifactorial traits involving inflammation and immunity. Our recent discovery that non-coding regulatory variants are major drivers of diversity in the immune response transcriptome identifies an important mechanism for this.

We have established translational programmes in the genomics of sepsis as part of the Genomic Advances in Sepsis study and in ankylosing spondylitis. We aim to promote use of genomics for drug target identification and validation, public engagement with genomics and implementation of genomic medicine in the clinic through education, training and a multidisciplinary approach.

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Professor Xin Lu

Xin LuProfessor of Cancer Biology Director Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Oxford Branch

The main goal of our research is to identify molecular mechanisms that control cellular plasticity and suppress tumour growth. Cells are able to change their characteristics and cell fate in response to external signals. This ability to change – cellular plasticity – underlies cancer initiation, metastasis and resistance to therapy. We are particularly interested in ‘guardians’ of plasticity in epithelial cells, from which over 80% of human tumours originate. We have a long-standing interest in the tumour suppressor p53 and the ASPP family of proteins (Apoptosis-Stimulating Protein of p53; Ankyrin repeats, SH3 domain and Prolin rich sequence containing proteins), which have several roles including regulation of p53.

Our current areas of interest include: understanding how selective transcription is controls cell fate; identifying regulators of cellular plasticity in upper gastrointestinal cancer initiation and metastasis (particularly oesophageal cancer and gastric cancer); and understanding the influence of infection on cell plasticity and cancer (particularly Helicobacter pylori and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection).

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Professor Jane McKeating

Jane McKeatingProfessor of Molecular Biology

Our research focuses on understanding early infection events that define cellular and tissue tropism of clinically important viruses. Preventing viral induced disease begins with an understanding of the host factors that define susceptibility to infection.

We recently discovered that the low oxygen environment naturally found in the liver enhances HBV and HCV replication and this is mediated by hypoxia inducible transcription factors (HIFs). Inhibiting HIFs or suppressing their expression limits virus infection, highlighting new therapeutic approaches.

Studies in our laboratory show that hypoxia limits HIV transcription and HIF-stabilizing drugs potentiate viral reactivation from latent sites of infection. Understanding the role of hypoxia induced signalling and metabolic effects on HIV transcription and latency will inform the development of new ‘curative strategies’.

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Professor Sir Andrew McMichael

Andrew McMichaelEmeritus Professor of Immunology (FRS)

Andrew McMichael’s group works on HIV vaccine development. In collaboration with Louis Picker, OHSU, he is working on the MHC-E restricted T cell responses that can clear acute SIV infection in some monkeys. This relates to his work with Veronique Braud in 1998 when they showed how HLA-E presents a particular peptide to NKG2/CD94 to regulate natural killer cells. When primed by a rhesus CMV vaccine recombinant for SIV genes or by mycobacteria, HLA-E can also present a range of epitope peptides to CD8 T cells. In collaboration with Geraldine Gillespie and Yvonne Jones, Lucy Walters has determined the structures of HLA-E bound to a set of epitope peptides. These structures reveal how HLA-E can bind peptides with very diverse sequences eliciting the exceptionally broad T cell responses that can clear SIV.

Together with Professor Persephone Borrow his group are also exploring the relationships between human T follicular helper cells and other CD4 T cells in blood and tonsils. He is asking whether microbiome antigens can prime naïve CD4 T cells in humans and establish a repertoire of pre-immune cross reactive memory cells that dominate primary T cell responses to vaccines.

His work is highly relevant to pathogen immunity and he has strong links to Chinese colleagues at the CTI, CAMS, China CDC and You’an Hospital.

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Professor Gil McVean

Gil McVeanProfessor of Statistical Genetics (FRS), Director Oxford Big Data Institute

My research covers several areas in the analysis of genetic variation, combining the development of methods for analysing high throughput sequencing data, theoretical work and empirical analysis.

Of particular interest are: the analysis of recombination from population genetic data, dissecting signals of disease association within the HLA, methods for inferring genealogical history from DNA sequence data and de novo sequence assembly for the discovery of genetic variation.

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Professor Graham Ogg

Graham OggProfessor of Dermatology Deputy Director, MRC Human Immunology Unit

Skin and mucosae frequently represent the first point of contact with pathogens and allergens, yet we still know relatively little of the role of the surface immune system in clearing such challenges. This is crucially important in understanding the mechanisms of skin diseases and related diseases, and for optimising approaches to cutaneous drug and vaccine delivery.

The aim of the group is therefore to understand, at the molecular and cellular level, the role of human cutaneous immune responses in mechanisms of disease, treatment and vaccination. As well as contributing to an understanding of disease pathogenesis, we aim to translate our findings to changes in clinical practice.

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Professor David Paterson

David PatersonHead of Department, Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology 

David Paterson is a Head of Department and leads a research team in the area of cardiac neurobiology. They are interested in how both branches of the cardiac autonomic nervous system communicate at the end organ level and whether oxidative stress plays a role in uncoupling pre-synaptic and post synaptic signalling. The endogenous gas nitric oxide is now thought to be a key intermediary in cardiac inter/intracellular signalling, where it has been shown to regulate several ion channels that control cardiac excitability.

His group has developed a method for targeting the enzyme involved in making nitric oxide using a gene transfer approach involving cell specific viral vectors to study the physiology of this messenger in normal and diseased hearts.

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Professor Gavin Screaton

Gavin ScreatonProfessor of Immunology Head Medical Sciences Division

His research has ranged from control of RNA processing and apoptosis to immunology. The current focus of his laboratory revolves around the immunology of infectious diseases, especially dengue haemorrhagic fever and Zika virus. This work is funded by the MRC and the Wellcome Trust and involves active research collaborations in South East Asia.

He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, a member of the Association of Physicians, and was made a Founder Senior Investigator in the National Institute for Health Research. He sits on the MRC Strategy Board.

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Professor Alison Simmons

Alison SimmonsProfessor of Gastroenterology NIHR Research Professor 

We use large-scale molecular assays to define features of innate immune signaling pathways that are dysregulated in human disease. Definition of such molecular pathways often highlights strategies to reverse these defects. We have applied these techniques to study of various innate immune receptors including NOD2, a receptor that is defective in western Crohn’s disease. In work with the CTI we will extend these studies to explore innate signaling defects present in human liver disease that contribute to disease progression and development of hepatocellular carcinoma. This will enable molecular screens to define targets for novel therapeutic design in these conditions.

Current Research Themes: Mechanisms of pattern recognition receptor function in health and inflammation; Molecular redefinition of human intestinal cells in health and digestive disease; Improving the treatment and management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

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Professor David Stuart

David StuartProfessor of Structural Biology (FRS), Director of the Division of Structural Biology
Viruses are attractive targets for study at the molecular level, since they are sufficiently simple that we may hope to achieve a rather complete understanding of their biology. In practice although their genomes are compact they display astonishing diversity, both in structure and function. Our attempts to relate structure to function have benefited from the developments in X-ray crystallographic methods that have brought very complex structures within reach of description in atomic detail. Our targets range from picornaviruses, small ssRNA viruses, which include a number of important animal and human pathogens, to the larger dsRNA viruses. At both ends of this spectrum (from less than 10,000,000 to about 100,000,000 Daltons) we now have representative atomic structures.

Our efforts are particularly focused on virus-receptor interactions and basic puzzles of virus assembly. Our studies here are highly collaborative, with strong links with a number of virologists (P. Mertens and B. Charleston (Pirbright), D. Rowlands (Leeds), P. Roy (London) as well as numerous groups elsewhere in Europe).

Work on cell-surface molecules is largely performed in collaboration with the group of Prof. E.Y. Jones, whose entry describes many of the projects.

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Professor Alain Townsend

Alain TownsendProfessor of Molecular Immunology (FRS)

Most of my work has been concerned with the presentation of Influenza antigens with class I molecules of the Major Histocompatibility complex. With the recent pandemic this interest continues with a practical extension into the issue of whether heterotypic immunity (between pandemic strains) can be induced in man with live attenuated strains of influenza. We have developed our own design of live attenuated virus called S-FLU, that relies on mutations in the haemagglutinin signal sequence that are permissive for infection but prevent replication of the virus. The advantage of this approach is that all of the viral proteins are expressed in their appropriate context in the lung, and thus can induce a full set of local T and B cell responses.

We are presently investigating the mechanisms of this immunity. As part of a broader interest in human immunity to influenza we are isolating human monoclonal antibodies that neutralise the virus with a view to investigating their potential as therapeutic agents in severe influenza infections. An additional aim for this project is to build a library of neutralising antibody genes that can be used as building blocks in a molecular engineering project to form bi-specific antibodies that can neutralise by two mechanisms at once that may be more effective than reagents with single specificities.

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PROFESSOR Lisa J White

Lisa White

Professor of Modelling and Epidemiology

I am currently the head of an Oxford University mathematical and economic modelling (MAEMOD) group based in Thailand at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit whose research focus is on tropical infections and primarily malaria. MAEMOD coordinates an international network of infectious disease modellers and modelling research beneficiaries working in the Tropics (TDModNet). My work on malaria combines within and between host infection models with multi-strain/species modelling to consider the characterisation, emergence and spread of antimalarial drug resistance and its containment.

I have strong collaborative links with the National Center of Malaria Control (CNM) in Cambodia and members of the WHO concerned with the containment of artemisinin resistance in its focus in Western Cambodia. I was also an active member of Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) an international consultative initiative aimed at identifying current knowledge gaps and new tools needed for malaria eradication. I am now developing mathematical models to be used as tools for national and international malaria elimination strategy design in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region. A large part of this approach will be to build capacity in the region for performing mathematical modelling research and for policymakers to access these new human resources effectively.

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