Location: Lecture Theatre 1, New Hunt's House, Guy's Campus
Inflammation and immune regulation: a joint perspective
Speaker: Professor Leonie Taams, Division of Immunology, Infection & inflammatory Disease
Abstract: Inflammation is a key immunological process that helps protect the body from harmful injury or microbial infection. It is essential that inflammation is tightly controlled in order to prevent this beneficial process from converting into a chronic inflammatory response. Uncontrolled inflammation can lead to a wide range of diseases collectively termed immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), which include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. Professor Taams’ research aims to determine what initiates, perpetuates and regulates inflammation in human health and disease. She is particularly interested in understanding the contributions of specific immune cells (T cells and monocytes), and their respective inflammatory mediators, to these processes.
In her inaugural lecture, Professor Taams will describe some of the key findings of her and others’ research that contributed to a better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that promote and regulate inflammation in human disease. These include the identification and functional characterisation of a specialised subset of regulatory T cells in humans; studies investigating the presence, generation and function of pro-inflammatory IL-17 producing T cells in the arthritic joint; and research that aims to determine how certain drugs can steer inflammatory cells towards anti-inflammatory function. She will discuss how this knowledge may help to identify novel pathways and/or approaches to target inflammation in humans.
About the speaker: Leonie Taams studied Medical Biology at Utrecht University, the Netherlands during which time she identified Immunology as her specialist subject of choice. In 1999, she obtained a PhD in Immunology from Utrecht University with a thesis entitled “Anergic T cells as active regulators of the immune response”. She then undertook postdoctoral studies at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London. There, with Prof Arne Akbar, she isolated and characterised, as one of the first groups worldwide, human regulatory CD4+CD25+ T cells. Leonie then translated her findings to human inflammatory disease, by studying the presence and function of these cells in rheumatoid arthritis, at the University Medical Centre Utrecht. In early 2003, she took up a lecturer position at King’s College London, initially at the Waterloo campus. She was awarded a BBSRC New Investigator Grant in 2004, and moved to the Guy’s Campus in 2005 to join the newly established Division of Immunology, Infection & Inflammatory Disease. She became Senior Lecturer in Immunology in 2007, Reader in Immunobiology in 2013, and Professor of Immune Regulation & Inflammation in 2015. She runs an active research group aimed at identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying immune regulation in human inflammatory disease. Leonie is also Director of the Centre for Inflammation Biology and Cancer Immunology (CIBCI) at King’s.
In addition to her research activities, Leonie holds several other roles including Editor-in-Chief of the journal Clinical and Experimental Immunology, Chair of the Assessment Sub Board of the MSc Immunology, member of the Divisional Athena Swan Self Assessment Team, Congress Secretary of the British Society of Immunology, and member of the EULAR scientific programme committee.