I obtained my Integrated Masters degree in Biomedical Sciences (MBiol) from Durham University. My final year project focused on molecular biology and involved me investigating the unfolded protein response in the endoplasmic reticulum. This taught me many of the fundamental practical techniques for examining structural interactions and cellular molecules. But it was two summer placements in Southampton and Newcastle that really sparked my interest into immunology and haematology and ultimately drove me towards this PhD.
For a long time, platelets have been well known for their role in clotting blood, however more recently they have shown immune cell properties, including the capacity to modulate inflammation. Macrophages, are believed to be “professional” immune cells, well known for their phagocytic role in clearing bacteria, viruses, parasites, as well as cellular debris. These two cells develop alongside each other in the bone marrow and circulate in the blood together under normal physiological conditions.
The major focus of this project is to look at the interactions between platelets and macrophages, initially in response to schistosome infections. This worm-borne infection has shown many clinical features including splenomegaly, hepatomegaly (enlarged spleen and liver) and thrombocytopenia. It is thought that thrombocytopenia, or reduced platelet number, may be a result of either an elevation in platelet clearance, a reduction in platelet production or a combination of both. With platelets showing an emerging role in host immune responses, regulating monocyte activation predominantly in type 1 inflammation, we want to determine how platelets regulate type 2 inflammation that dominates in schistosome infections.
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