Robert Friedrich Donat
I graduated with a BSc in immunology from the University of Edinburgh in 2017. During my time in Edinburgh I completed projects with Alex Rowe, Rose Zamoyska and Graeme Cowan. My rotations during my first year on the IITM program were under the supervision of Simon Draper characterising the Plasmodium falciparum cysteine rich protective antigen (PfCyRPA) and α-PfCyRPA antibodies, Irina Udalova characterising the immunological phenotype of CX3CR1 knockout mice and Simon Davis designing and generating bispecific antibody constructs. I finally decided to do my DPhil under the supervision of Simon Davis and Richard Cornall investigating immune checkpoint receptor agonism.
I graduated from the University of Bristol with my BSc in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, focusing on immunology and structural biology; these are both areas of research I am planning to continue throughout the rotation programme. During my degree I also completed an internship at the Francis Crick, working on GM of Plasmodium chabaudi. Infectious disease is therefore an area I would also like to pursue. Outside the lab I hope to get involved with public engagement, as well as potentially down the line public health/implementation strategies. My first lab rotation is with Prof. Matt Higgins, designing epitopes for a potential malaria transmission blocking vaccine. So far the project has been great at combining my current interests, whilst allowing me to develop new skills such as python programming.
Before coming to Oxford, I completed my undergraduate and Masters in Molecular Biotechnology at Heidelberg University (Germany) where I developed a profound interest in virology and immunology. I then moved to Oxford to work as a research assistant in Jim Hughes‘ lab at the WIMM, working on genetic variation in anaemia. Although this was an amazing opportunity to learn new techniques and I truly enjoyed working there, I decided that for my DPhil I would like to go back to my main interest in applied research in the fields of infection and immunology. For my first rotation, I joined William James’ lab at the Dunn School of Pathology where I looked at macrophage and T cell fusion in the context of HIV-1 infection. In my second rotation I studied the innate immune response to lentiviral vectors in Jan Rehwinkels lab in the WIMM. For my third rotation, I joined Graham Oggs lab in the WIMM looking at the impact of short chain fatty acids on dendritic and Langerhans-like cells. Since then I joined Graham Oggs lab for my DPhil project aiming to identify lipid antigens and how they contribute to CD1a-mediated immune responses. I will investigate this in two distinct immunological contexts – the immunosuppressive setting of HIV-1 infection and the inflammatory setting of psoriasis.
I did my undergraduate degree in biology at Oxford University, and completed my research project in the lab of Professor Sir Andrew McMichael. I remained in Oxford for an MSc in Integrated Immunology, and during this time, I worked in the Jenner Institute with Dr Teresa Lambe on a project developing multivalent vaccines for outbreak pathogens including Ebola viruses and Marburg virus.
For my first rotation, I worked with Professor Ellie Barnes comparing hepatitis C virus infections and vaccination in human and rat models. I then went to Professor Fiona Powrie’s lab, where I researched stromal cells in the gut, and how they control the colorectal cancer microenvironment. For my final rotation, I worked at the Jenner institute in Professor Sarah Gilbert’s lab, developing a vaccine for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. I have decided to stay at the Jenner institute for my DPhil project, and will be co-supervised by Professor Sarah Gilbert and Professor Paul Klenerman. My project will involve researching the mechanisms behind how CMV infection and immunosenescence alter vaccine efficacy, and how the development of novel vaccines can overcome this.
Before coming to Oxford, I did my undergraduate degree in Biomedicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. There I had the opportunity to work on several short term research projects that ignited my interest in infection and immunology. I participated in the synthetic biology competition iGEM as part of the first ever team from Stockholm, investigated the epigenetic effects of human herpesvirus 6B with Anna Fogdell-Hahn and studied the Pseudomonas aeruginosa type VI secretion system as an exchange student in Alain Filloux’s lab at Imperial College.
During my first year in the IITM programme I did rotations with Hal Drakesmith researching the effect of iron deficiency on adaptive immunity, with Chris Tang working on a chimeric antigen subunit vaccine against serogroup B Neisseria meningitidis and with Tal Arnon imaging T cell migration in the spleen.
I returned to Hal Drakesmith’s lab for my DPhil, where I’m researching how iron deficiency affects malaria vaccine efficacy.