I am currently working towards my PhD in virology at the University of Leeds under the supervision of Professor Whitehouse. I also completed my undergraduate at Leeds where I graduated with an MBiol in Microbiology in 2018. I’ve always had an interest in infectious agents and during my undergraduate degree developed an interest in DNA viruses. This was confirmed during my master’s project where I worked on non-coding RNAs in Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection, this I enjoyed due to KSHV’s complexity with its two distinct lifecycles and its ability to manipulate cell gene expression.
My project is focusing on the role of cellular circular RNAs (circRNAs) during KSHV infection. KSHV is an oncogenic herpesvirus that causes multiple malignancies particularly in the immunosuppressed. While circRNAs are an emerging form of non-coding RNA involved in regulating gene expression through a variety of mechanisms such as regulation of RNA binding proteins and miRNAs. My project firstly aims to identify specific cellular circRNAs that are dysregulated during viral lytic replication and the resulting effect on the cell, particularly at the RNA level. Secondly to understand the mechanism behind this dysregulation and why the virus dysregulates it. Eventually aiming to see if inhibition of the mechanism can lead to reduced viral replication. The project utilises a wide range of molecular biology techniques, particularly RNA specific tools.