I went to school at Chelmsford County High School in Essex, before studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge. During this time, I became fascinated with how the immune system makes critical decisions, and I therefore moved to the London Research Institute for my PhD with Dr Caetano Reis e Sousa. After a fantastic four years working out the signals to recognise fungal infections in the spleen, I realised it would be important to understand how this works earlier during infection at the body surfaces. I therefore moved to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario to carry out a postdoc with Prof Andrew McPherson. During this time, we could demonstrate some of mechanisms used to contain the diverse consortium of microbes that resides in your large intestine. In 2011, I became an “Ambizione” junior group leader together with Prof Wolf-Dietrich Hardt at the ETH Zurich. I was promoted to Assistant Professor for Food Immunology in 2018, and to a full Professor for Mucosal Immunology in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology in 2022. I was appointed to the Barclay Williams Professorship for Molecular Immunology in 2023 at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology.
I lecture on adaptive immunity for first-year Biomedical Sciences students. Internationally, I am involved in teaching “Research Integrity” for doctoral students and as a “didactic fellow”. My research group is open for the supervision of projects in the areas of mucosal immunology, vaccine design, and microbiome sciences.
The Molecular Mucosal Immunology group is focused on understanding the complex relationship between intestinal bacteria, the host immune system, and intestinal physiology. This includes fundamental research in reductionist systems, addressing questions such as what mechanisms we human hosts use to control the gut microbiome, via novel technique development, through to translational mucosal vaccine development targeting critical intestinal pathogens. We currently have a major focus on eliminating antibiotic resistant pathogenic E. coli carriage in the gut.