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Personal profile

Research interests

We are exposed to a plethora of infectious agents and our barrier sites are crucial to stop such invaders getting into our bodies. Barrier sites such as the skin or the lining of the gut are also exposed to a huge commensal microbial population that helps maintain barrier function and the cells must be tolerant to these friendly microbes whilst remianing alert to the threat of potential pathogens. How do immune cells within the barrier distinguish friend from foe? Our lab focuses on understanding and defining the initiation and control of immune responses in barrier sites such as the gut and the skin. In particular we focus on the mechanisms of crosstalk between immune cells and epithelial cells in reponse to the resident microbiota or injury, pollutants and pathogens.
By combining in vitro and in vivo approaches we have been able to characterise the barrier function of skin (keratinocyte)  and intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and the crosstalk with immune cells, pathogens and commensal bacteria. Of particular interets is a group of immune cells called eosinophils and their role in barrier function. We have also found a novel role for the eosinophils that live in the adipose tissue that surround blood vessels (pervivascular adipose) next to the gut and showed they regulate perivascular adipose and vascular function.

We use infectious models such as Toxoplasma gondii, Trichuris muris and Salmonella typhimurium to answer fundamental questions about the initiation of immunity.  By working with bioinformatics specialists we have been developing toolkits to disscet the population fo microbes at our barrier sites and use this information to better understand beneficial bacteria versu sopportuitsic pathogens. By understanding the immunology underpinning barrier function we are looking to develop biomarkers that can better predict inflammation and improve patient care for those with chronic long term confiditions.

I have a strong interest in public engagement with science and have developed projects to share and involve the public with my research. I have co-developed a number of games and activities around the theme of paraistic infection in a mobile activity called "the Worm Wagon" and I have also developed resources to enable people with english as second language to access scientific langauage and learn about science and apply it to their daily lives. I have co-developed a citizen science project called Britain Breathing which uses citizens as sensors to capture data on seasonal allergies to better understand why they occur and why they are increasing.



Immunology is the science of the immune system, the body’s defence against infection. From birth to death, we are bombarded with potential infectious threats that are immune system must recognise and respond to by killing or containing the threat. Yet, the immune system can be harmful too to us too when it isn’t properly controlled as is seen in allergies or autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Our research focuses on how our immune responses get started. Events that happen early in an immune response determine whether someone will be able to get rid of an infection or not or whether they get a chronic long-lasting infection or even an autoimmune disease like Inflammatory Bowel Disease. We look at how immune cells and bugs talk to each other and how this communication shapes the immune response in infection, inflammation (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease) and delayed wound-healing.

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 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

FRSA, RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts)

2016 → …

Trustee and Public engagement secretary, British Society for Immunology


Leshner Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Areas of expertise

  • QR180 Immunology
  • Infection
  • Clinical Wound healing
  • Allergy
  • Barrier Tissues
  • Inflammation
  • microbiota
  • Immune Signaling

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures
  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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