Jenny Herbert

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Personal profile

Overview

Lecturer in Medical Microbiology (MSc PGT program)

PGT Unit Lead: Understanding Infection, Clinical Microbiology (co-lead)

Deputy director, MSc Clinical Immunology

Division of Medical Education Social Responsibility lead

Qualifications

2005-2008: BSc (Hons) Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Newcastle University, UK

2008-2012: PhD Infection and Immunity, University of Glasgow , UK

Title of thesis: Genetic regulation of virulence in Streptococcus pneumoniae

Teaching

Dr Herbert is a teaching focused lecturer at UoM, spending most of her time teaching on the MSc Medical Microbiology program (12-month full-time course), which she joined in 2020. Through this role she uses her microbiology and research expertise to provide teaching excellence to MSc students. She is unit lead on Understanding Infection (30 credit module), and unit co-lead on the Clinical Microbiology module (30 credit).

She is currently Deputy-Director of the MSc Clinical Immunology program (joined 2023), a 12-month full-time course.

Teaching wise, she uses a range delivery techniques including tradition lectures, tutorials to teach key research skills, team based learning exercises, formative assessments such as quizzes, and delivery of practical laboratory sessions. She is passionate about providing the best teaching experience to all students and strives to offer alternative teaching and learning environments to traditions ones. This includes organising tours to diagnostic laboratories, and encourages/ facilitates students engagement in outreach activities.

Research interests

Dr Herbert’s research focuses on understanding the pathology of viral/ bacterial infections in the airway (also co-infection) and immune response to these infection in in health and disease (asthma, COPD, CF and children). This utilises primary airway epithelial cells differentiated at air liquid interface, and an immune cell migration model developed during her time at UCL (Herbert et al, 2020. ERJ).

Social responsibility

Dr Herbert is also social responsibility lead (2023) for the Division of Medical Education and is passionate about outreach. Through her teaching role she incorporates outreach and widening participation into teaching, and participates in outreach activities such as British Science Week, Communities Festival and In2Science. She offers opportunities to MSc students to get involved in these outreach activities which are invaluable to their personal development.

Biography

Dr Jenny Herbert is a teaching focused lecturer (Medical Microbiology/ Immunology) at UoM. She is a microbiologist specialising in bacterial and viral respiratory infection, whose research focuses on the pathogenicity and immune response to single and co-infections (bacterial- viral/ viral- viral) using primary airway epithelial human models of infection.

Throughout her research careers she has worked on some of the most clinically important respiratory pathogens, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Respiratory Syncytial virus and Rhinovirus, including the most recently discovered strain of Rhinovirus C (RVC).

Her PhD at the University of Glasgow focused on the genetic regulation of virulence in Streptococcus pneumoniae, a globally clinically important respiratory bacterial pathogen. This project explored the role of two-component signal transduction systems in virulence gene regulation using in vitro and in vivo models (murine model) of infection (Herbert et al, 2015, PLOS ONE, Herbert et al, 2018, PLOS ONE).

Following her PhD Dr Herbert spent a short period of time at Public Health England, Porton Down. Where she used immunological complement deposition assays to study the seroprevalence of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) in mother and child pairs. This used complement deposition as a measure of functional antibody levels, to assess seroprevalence and transfer of maternal antibody to baby in utero. Evaluating the protective capabilities of these antibodies, to prevent GBS disease in neonates (correlate of protection) (Herbert et al, 2015. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology).

Dr Herbert then undertook a post-doctoral position at the University of Birmingham to explore the efficacy of novel protein polysaccharide conjugate vaccines produced in E.coli (Herbert et al, 2018. Vaccine). This used a murine model of pneumococcal infection to compare the novel conjugates to the licensed Prevnar13 vaccine used in children. With the aim to assess the novel conjugates efficacy in comparison to the gold standard vaccination. Conjugate vaccines are very expensive and alternative production methods could make these vaccines cheaper to produce making them accessible to poorer countries where the pneumococcal disease burden remains high.

Following this Dr Herbert moved to Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, where she undertook a project to explore the role of neutrophils in airway damage during respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. Here she developed a novel inverted neutrophil migration model using primary differentiated airway epithelial cells taken from nasal brushings (Herbert et al, 2020. European Respiratory Journal). This enabled her to explore the impact neutrophils have on the airway during RSV infection, with a focus on how these immune cells damage the epithelium, specifically the ciliated epithelial layer (Herbert et al, 2020. European Respiratory Journal. Deng, Y*., Herbert, J.A* et al, 2018. Scientific reports. Deng, Y., Herbert, J.A et al, 2020. Journal of virology.  Robinson. E, Herbert J.A. et al 2023. Journal of Leukocyte Biology).

Dr Herbert then moved to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Institute in the Park, University of Liverpool. Where she worked on a project to develop a diagnostic test for identification of Rhinovirus C (RVC), a recently discovered species of RV that is associated with more severe exacerbations in asthmatics.

Following this project Dr Herbert was awarded a 1 year Hugh Greenwood fellowship (University of Liverpool) to explore the role of neutrophils in airway damage during RVC infection. This built on her expertise and utilised the model developed during her time in UCL. During this project she utilised this model to work with primary airway cells from asthmatic donors. (This work is still ongoing with collaborators)

Dr Herbert then transitioned into a teaching focused (2020) post at the University of Manchester. Recent research at UoM has focused on setting up the primary airway epithelial cells migration model with healthy and asthma donors to explore the impact of viral/ bacterial infection (and co-infection) on epithelial integrity. And the role immune cells play during infection in epithelial damage in health and disease.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Research Associate, University of Liverpool

20192020

Research Associate, University College London (UCL)

20162018

Research Fellow, University of Birmingham

20132016

Research Scientist, Public Health England (PHE)

20122013

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