I lead an established research group with a focus on T cell immunology relevant to gut and liver disease, and I seek to translate laboratory and clinical findings through to human experimental medicine studies.
My group is developing pan-genotypic vaccines for HCV prevention and HBV cure using simian adenoviral and other viral vectors. A major challenge for HCV vaccine development is the significant viral diversity both within the same host and between hosts –though parts of the viral genome are conserved making these excellent T cell targets in the context of a T cell vaccine. Some of the technologies we are developing include integral genetic adjuvants that will have applicability in a broad range of diseases. We are also establishing a new rat model of HCV infection that will also us to evaluate vaccine candidates at an early stage.
More recently my group is developing national programs in stratified medicine; I lead STOP-HCV, an MRC funded stratified medicine national consortium (22 partners) that unites clinicians, scientists and industry partners in studies of personalised medicine integrating viral and host genetics with immune and other biomarker parameters (STOP-HCV.ox.ac.uk/home). We have established new pathogen sequencing technologies and are particularly interested in how host genomes affect microbial diversity, and have a portfolio of stratified medicine studies that have recently extended to S.E. Asia.
I lead additional programs of work in immune mediated liver disease. One of these, IgG4-related disease (of unknown aetiology, only very recently described) affects multiple organs and includes severe biliary and pancreatic pathology, characterised by a lymphocytic infiltrate with IgG4 producing B cells. We have now established a large cohort of patients and a national registry (funded through EASL) and are currently performing detailed assessment of T and B cells profiles to further define pathogenesis.
My group is developing liver imaging techniques with OCMR for the non-invasive detection of organ fibrosis and inflammation.