I am a viral immunologist by training. My research has focused on cytoplasmic mechanisms that detect and inactivate viruses shortly after their entry to the cell. From 2009 to 2017 I worked in the lab of Dr Leo James at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, where I co-discovered and characterised the novel antibody receptor TRIM21 as a potent antiviral sensor. In recent years I have asked whether intracellular antibodies can be used to specifically degrade cellular proteins. This has led me into the field of protein misfolding. I am fascinated in the parallels between templated protein misfolding and viral infection and the shared mechanisms that may limit their spread.
Post-doctoral research associate
I have been interested in neurodegeneration from my MSc, and following on from myPhD, I knew that I wanted to focus my career on understanding the mechanisms of neurodegeneration. I carried out my PhD at the Babraham Institute, where I worked on the interaction between GIMAP6, a member of a family of small GTPases that play a role in maintaining lymphocyte populations, and GABARAPL2, an Atg8 homologue. This gave me an insight into autophagy and aspects of cell biology and equipped me for work in the Seaman group, which is based in the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. Here I was given the opportunity to work on analysing the role endosome-to-Golgi trafficking plays in the trafficking and processing of the amyloid precursor protein and I have identified an important role for PLD3 in this process. Following on from this project, I was keen to broaden my knowledge of neurodegeneration further, and to this end, my project in the McEwan lab will focus on investigating the mechanisms via which TRIM21 can degrade antibody-bound aggregates in animal models of disease with the aim of uncovering the implications this has for various neurodegenerative disorders.
Post-doctoral Research Associate
I completed my PhD studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, working on a collaborative project between the groups of Dr. Thomas R. Jahn and Prof. Walter Nickel. My research focused on characterizing the unconventional secretion mechanism of the Alzheimer’s disease-associated tau protein and identifying the impact of this process on its trans-cellular propagation. Following my interest in neurodegeneration and protein aggregation, I joined the McEwan lab, where my work will be focusing on seeding templated propagation of disease-relevant tau species and the molecular mechanisms of generating fibrillar tau strains.
I completed an Undergraduate MSci in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Glasgow. I spent one year at the bio-pharmaceutical company MedImmune in Cambridge where I used CRISPR/dCas9-VPR to activate genes of interest to increase biological drug expression. Following my degree, my interest in the molecular biology of misfolded proteins in Alzheimer’s disease lead me to the McEwan lab, where I am studying for my PhD. During my time here, I am investigating the mechanism of tau spread between cells. We aim to generate assays to distinguish between cytoplasmic and extracellular tau, a key problem in studying transcellular tau propagation.
Former lab members