Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?
I started my career as a Protein Chemist and did my DPhil at the University of Oxford. I developed into a tumour stromal cell biologist while working as a Postdoc with Professor Douglas Fearon at the University of Cambridge. I studied the role of fibroblasts in suppressing the anti-tumour immune response using in vivo models of cancer which sparked my interest in tumour immunology. I then moved to Kings in 2012 and set up the Tumour Immunology Group.
I’ve always had a passion for translational research, and I am driven by the prospect of seeing my lab’s research go through to Phase 1 trials. My current work with Dr John Maher’s team on hypoxia-sensing Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell technology is just one example of our interest in exploiting scientific principles for novel translatable approaches to cancer immunotherapy. We hope the technology will continue to be developed to a Phase 1 trial in the years to come.
What is a typical day like for you, and how has this changed from when you’d commute to the office?
The impact of lockdown on the scope of my day to day tasks has been relatively small, and my team have refocused their efforts towards computation and analysing their ‘big data’ datasets. I spend my days currently developing grants and manuscripts as well as supervising my team remotely. I am missing the open-door policy of my lab where my students would just walk in to talk about research results and project direction, everything is more structured and planned when working remotely. Discussion is such an important part of developing a project, putting results together can be like completing a Sudoku puzzle.
What do you think people in the School would find most surprising about you?
I completed the Marathon Des Sables in 2008, a 150mile race across the Sahara Desert - when I was young and actually exercised!