Prior to beginning my DPhil I completed a Biochemistry degree at Oxford, where I gained an interest in studying the molecular mechanisms that launch adaptive immune responses.
My current research is centered around understanding how the infamous coreceptor proteins CD4 and CD8 contribute to T cell triggering and activation. These coreceptors amplify antigen-specific signaling by many orders of magnitude despite binding to pMHC ligands with an incredibly low affinity and associating very weakly with intracellular kinases. Our goal is to investigate the organization and dynamics of CD4 and CD8 at the cell surface through super-resolution imaging, correlation spectroscopy and biochemical analysis. This project is jointly supervised by Prof. Mike Dustin (KIR) and Prof. Simon Davis (WIMM).
Developing a fundamental understanding of the HIV-1 life cycle is paramount in the search for a cure. RNA is a central molecule in HIV-1 biology due to its dual function as messenger and genome. However, the small number of proteins encoded by HIV-1 is insufficient to enable virus infection. Hence, HIV-1 hijacks cellular RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) to fulfil its life cycle.
My DPhil aims to identify which of these RBPs regulate HIV-1 infection. By screening RBP-knockout and overexpression cell lines I will reveal which RBPs have the greatest effect on HIV-1 infection and select the most interesting RBPs to study further. I will then apply RNA, proteomic and virological methods to uncover the mechanism of action by which selected RBPs control HIV-1 infection.
Joao Ferreira Fernandes
B cell receptor (BCR) signalling is essential for the activation of B lymphocytes and for the initiation and selection of high affinity humoral responses. The downstream signalling pathways by which this occurs are well characterised, but the mechanism by which antigen binding induces signalling (termed receptor ‘triggering’) remains controversial.
We are using cell lines expressing the model HyHEL10 receptor against the antigen hen egg lysozyme (HEL) to address the molecular basis of BCR triggering. We seek to investigate the settings in which B cells are responsive to their target antigens, both in solution and to membrane-bound antigen. We also aim to apply super-resolution microscopy to the study of the resting distribution of the B cell receptor on the B cell surface, in order to determine the basis of receptor reorganisation during signalling events.
I studied Biomedical Sciences at the University of Manchester, where I completed an MSci project with Prof. Judi Allen investigating the role of chitinase-like proteins in the induction of type 2 immunity during helminth infection. During my undergraduate degree I also completed two Summer projects and attended the Sysmed IBD Spring School in Kiel. In the first year of IITM I rotated with Prof. Katja Simon, investigating the role of autophagy in immune cell homeostasis, Prof. Adrian Hill, working on malaria vaccine development and Prof. Fiona Powrie, investigating the transcriptional activity of the microbiome during colitis.
I am now completing my DPhil in the Powrie lab, utilising a blend of bioinformatic and wet-lab approaches to understanding how changes in gut microbial communities contribute to the development of inflammation in the intestine.
I graduated from McMaster University in Canada with a BSc in Chemical Biology, and completed my Master’s developing chimeric receptors for adoptive T cell therapy. I’ve developed a strong interest in understanding the role of T cells in long term diseases such as cancer, and how their dysfunction leads to clinical disease.
At Oxford, I completed rotations in the labs of Paul Klenerman, Enzo Cerundolo, and Len Seymour. I began my DPhil project to investigate the role of cytokines in cross-presentation in the Cerundolo lab, and continued my project in Audrey Gerard‘s lab. We are particularly interested in how inflammatory cytokines synergize to affect T cell priming against tumour antigens, and utilize murine models to investigate cross-priming events in vivo. Outside of the lab, I enjoy lifting, climbing, and cycling.
Coming from a BSc in Medical Microbiology at the University of Leicester, where I did my dissertation on mycobacterial resuscitation with Galina Mukamolova, I rotated with Quentin Sattantau and Helen McShane before joining Philip Goulder for my DPhil.
My research concerns the role of macrophages in the sex-discordance of in-utero HIV-1 transmission, for which I am developing models using primary placental tissue and hiPSC-derived macrophages through collaborations with Manu Vatish and William James. Since the SARS-CoV2 pandemic my work has also expanded to include the role of sex-discordant innate immune responses in the apparent male bias in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.