I am a senior postdoctoral scientist in Professor Susanna Dunachie’s Tropical Immunology Research Group at the Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research. I obtained a doctoral degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Salzburg, Austria in 2011 specialising in cellular immunology. I have previously worked on projects defining the immunoregulatory role of mesenchymal stem cells, harnessing epigenetic modulation for improved hematopoietic stem cell expansion; and defining mucosal and systemic immune responses to H. pylori in mice and pigs.
Since January 2016 I have been working in Professor Dunachie's group on immune correlates of protection in melioidosis, a neglected tropical disease caused by the Gram-negative bacterium B. pseudomallei. The most prominent risk factor for contracting melioidosis is diabetes mellitus (predominantly type 2 diabetes), which is currently affecting more than 460 million people worldwide with the majority of people living in low- and middle-income countries. Our group has a special interest in the susceptibility of people with diabetes to infection including melioidosis, tuberculosis and COVID-19. My research focuses on defining the cellular metabolic landscape of T cells from people with diabetes and how perturbations in cellular metabolism affect activation, signalling dynamics and function of T cells in the context of melioidosis and other infectious diseases. I use flow cytometry based assays as well as extracellular flux analysis (Seahorse, Agilent) to decipher differences in fuel uptake, fuel dependency, mitochondrial health, glycolytic capacity among other parameters. I am also currently working on a ssRNA sequencing project to define the transcriptional landscape and clonal diversity of B. pseudomallei specific T cells in people with and without diabetes in order to better understand memory responses in melioidosis (internally funded by the Human Immune Discovery Initiative). More recently, I have been involved in a collaborative pump priming project funded by The Validate network (Vaccine development for complex intracellular neglected pathogens) to evaluate the impact of metabolic reprogramming of monocytes on BCG vaccine efficacy (led by Prof. Javier Sanchez, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico).
Moreover, I have been involved in COVID-19 research since spring 2020 and am currently supporting ongoing research efforts within the PITCH consortium, providing laboratory oversight and assay development as well as support for our international collaborators.
Our extracellular flux analysis instruments (XFp and XF96) are available for use by other researchers within the University on a collaborative basis. Please contact me if you are interested in using this technique for one of your projects.
Hepcidin-Mediated Hypoferremia Disrupts Immune Responses to Vaccination and Infection.
Frost JN. et al, (2021), Med (N Y), 2, 164 - 179.e12
Diabetes alters immune response patterns to acute melioidosis in humans.
Kronsteiner B. et al, (2019), Eur J Immunol, 49, 1092 - 1106
Strong interferon-gamma mediated cellular immunity to scrub typhus demonstrated using a novel whole cell antigen ELISpot assay in rhesus macaques and humans.
Sumonwiriya M. et al, (2017), PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11
Cooperation of Gastric Mononuclear Phagocytes with Helicobacter pylori during Colonization.
Viladomiu M. et al, (2017), J Immunol, 198, 3195 - 3204
A Novel High-Throughput Screening Platform Reveals an Optimized Cytokine Formulation for Human Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Expansion.
Tarunina M. et al, (2016), Stem Cells Dev, 25, 1709 - 1720