I obtained a BSc in Molecular Biomedicine from the University of Bonn (Germany), and performed my thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology (Berlin). My project, working in Prof. E. Charpentier’s group, focused on regulatory RNA in Streptococcos pyogenes. I then undertook an internship in Dr. N. Gromak’s group at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology (Oxford), focusing on R-loops and transcriptional regulation. It was followed by work experience at Bayer AG (Berlin) in the Drug Discovery Department where I worked on the development of biochemical and cellular assays for the screening of new therapeutical compounds. Driven by my interest in infection and applications in medicine, I joined IITM and performed my rotations in Prof. Jan Rehwinkel’s and Prof. Jane McKeatings group. I decided to perform my DPhil with Jane, where I am now studying the influence of circadian and hypoxic pathways on HIV-1 infection.
I did my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Tübingen, Germany. I worked on my thesis in Stefan Stefanovic’s lab at the department of Immunology. As I focused on Adenovirus 2 specific T cells from PBMCs, I conducted peptide prediction and manufacturing to screen top candidates. Developing a strong interest in immunology, I obtained an MSc in Biology (immunology track) at the University of Freiburg, Germany. I completed my thesis externally at Havard at the Boston Childrens Hostpital, where I investigated hypomorphic mutations of Adenylate Kinase 2 during B cell activation in the lab of Raif Geha. During my first year in the IITM programme I did rotations with Paul Klenerman, Hal Drakesmith and Quentin Sattentau and returned to the Sattentau lab for my DPhil project where I am investigating the role of ADAM10 modulating cell-cell interactions.
Fernando Jimenez Gallardo
I graduated from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid with a BSc in Biotechnology, finishing my last year in the group of Prof John van der Oost at Wageningen University – The Netherlands – where I explored novel methods to engineer Akkermansia muciniphila to study its role in immune modulation.
I later completed an MSc in Immunology at Imperial College London, where I engineered and differentiated human stem cells into NK cells to enhance their immunotherapeutic potential against cancer, at Prof Hugh Brady’s lab.
Before starting my DPhil, I spent almost a year at Autolus Ltd., a company in the field of T cell programming, where I designed and assessed CAR-T cells at a preclinical stage.
During my first year at Oxford, I rotated in the groups of Prof Ellie Barnes, where I designed a CRISPR-Cas9-based approach to treat chronic HBV infections; Dr Omer Dushek, where I studied the role of the CD8 T cell coreceptor in antigen discrimination; and Prof Leonard Seymour, deciding to stay in the latter for the rest of my DPhil. At Len’s lab, I am developing novel anti-tumour therapeutics to harness the potential of lymphocytes to kill cancer cells found in solid tumours.
I graduated with a BMedSc(Hons) in Medical Science from the University of Birmingham in 2017, where I focussed my studies towards Immunology and Epigenetics. During my time at Birmingham, I completed projects with Dr Laura O’Neill and Prof Graham Anderson, where I became interested in the epigenetic regulation of Promiscuous Gene Expression within thymic epithelial cells. After my undergraduate degree I worked with Prof Georg Holländer as a Research Assistant for 2 years on thymus development and function. During my first year on the IITM programme I rotated with Dr Sally Cowley and Prof William James, working on an iPSC-derived macrophage model of Parkinson’s; and later in the lab of Assoc Prof Ana Domingos where I have decided to stay for my DPhil project, investigating the neuroimmune mechanisms underlying obesity.
During my BSc in Infection and Immunology at UCL, I had an opportunity to do a short-term internship with Irina Udalova in the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and subsequently write my bachelor’s thesis in the lab of Gitta Stockinger in the Francis Crick Institute where I explored the role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in both murine and human eosinophils. Through these projects, I developed a strong interest in immunology both in homeostasis and in the context of inflammation. During the first year of the IITM programme, I completed rotations with Alfredo Castello Palomares establishing in vitro resources to study a subset of RNA-binding proteins during an HIV infection and with Irina Udalova studying the role of synovial macrophages in the context of inflammatory arthritis. I am continuing the project in the Udalova lab further studying the role of a subset of synovial macrophages and their contribution to arthritis onset and propagation.
Zihan (Amanda) Zhu
Before arriving in Oxford, I did my undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences in the University of Cambridge, followed by a research MPhil where I investigated microtubule organisation in mitosis. I realised my interest in pathogen biology and host-pathogen interactions through working on Vacciniavirus and Staphylococcus aureus during my internships with Professor Geoffrey Smith from Cambridge and Professor Serge Mostowy from LSHTM. For my first rotation, I worked with Professor Ervin Fodor to study the inhibitory effects of a panel of 24 nanobodies on the polymerase of the 1918 influenza virus. In response to the COVID19 outbreak, I joined the Ahel Lab to study the Macrodomain protein of SARS-CoV-2 and its potential as a drug target. I have now returned to the Fodor Lab for my DPhil aiming to study the dynamic architecture of the influenza ribonucleoproteins, focusing on interactions between the viral polymerase and nucleoproteins. Other interests of mine are improving public and government understanding of science and translating science into more accessible technologies.