Sefina Arif, PhD
My research is focused on understanding the role of human T cells in the development of type 1 diabetes. T cells secrete cytokines which act as messengers that orchestrate the immune response in response to pathogens. In type 1 diabetes the balance of these cytokines is perturbed leading to a polarisation towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype and much of my research is directed at examining this balance in heath and disease. In addition I am currently working on the identification of previously unknown epitopes that are generated in response to autoantigen-vaccination in patients with type 1 diabetes; we hope that this will provide an insight into the pathology of type 1 diabetes and have implications for immune-therapeutic approaches.
Martin Eichmann, PhD
I obtained a diploma degree in Bioengineering from the Munich University of Applied Sciences and a PhD in Immunology from King’s College London. In a collaborative project with UCB my research aims to establish further understanding of peptide-based immunotherapy.
Yuk-Fun Liu, MBBS, MSc, MRCP
After completing my specialist registrar training in Diabetes and Endocrinology, I joined the lab in 2011 as a Diabetes UK Clinical Training Fellow and PhD student. My work centres around clinical trials of peptide immunotherapy in newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic patients with a focus on T-cell receptor and gene microarray changes induced by peptide administration. In 2015, I became Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant (Guy’s and St. Thomas’s NHS Trust).
Rhia Kundu, PhD
I started in the Peakman lab in February 2014 as a Research Associate, after completing my PhD at UCL. Supported by a primary skill set encompassing translational bioinformatics as well as molecular and cellular immunology, my major research interest is the role of antigen presentation in the induction and modulation of autoimmunity. My work proceeds as part of an EU 7th Framework Consortium, PEVNET, which examines the potential role for enterovirus infection as a trigger event for a breakdown in tolerance leading to T1D. By utilising putative epitopes we have identified in silico, we map the infection history of cases and controls by ELISpot and tetramer staining combined with multicolour flow cytometry. As such, we can assess the differing antigen specificities and cellular phenotypes of enterovirus-specific CD8 T cells from T1D patients. In this way, we seek to robustly determine whether there is an association of enterovirus infection with T1D.
Yogesh Kamra, BSc
After I graduated with my BSc.(hons) Molecular Biology and Genetics from University of Hertfordshire, I worked as an RA for 3 years with BRC. I joined the Peakman lab in October 2013. My main research focus has been the generation and sequencing of TCR libraries from patients with Type 1 Diabetes enrolled in our clinical trials to study changes in their TCR repertoires. My current research involves working in a NIH funded project on defining the CD4 T cell responses to GAD immunized Type 1 Diabetic patients, to study the expression of molecular markers at single cell level, by means of qPCR and TCR clonotyping.
Lorraine Yeo, PhD
I joined the Peakman lab as a post-doctoral research associate in February 2014. My research focuses on beta cell antigen-specific CD8 T cells as immunological markers of beta cell decline in Type 1 Diabetes. I have optimised methods for detecting rare autoreactive T cell populations in the blood using peptide-HLA multimers and multi-parameter flow cytometry, and used these approaches to identify and characterise CD8 T cells specific for novel beta cell epitopes in patient cohorts with increased genetic risk of disease. An important aspect of my work is to investigate changes in autoreactive CD8 T cells with disease progression and metabolic decline in Type 1 Diabetes. Previously, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Medical Science (Cell and Molecular pathology) from the University of Birmingham where I went on to complete a Master’s degree (MPhil) and PhD in rheumatoid arthritis. I continued my work there as a post-doctoral researcher defining a novel B cell subset in rheumatoid arthritis before moving to King’s College London.
After completing my BSc in Biology at the University of Athens, I pursued an MSc in Immunology at Imperial College London. I joined the lab as a Research Assistant in May 2015. My current work focuses on studying the immune effect of peptide immunotherapy in patients with recent-onset type 1 diabetes.
Johan Verhagen, MSc, PhD
I joined the Peakman lab in July 2015. The aim of my work here is to enhance our understanding of the immunological mechanisms behind tolerance induction and thereby further develop peptide immunotherapy of Type 1 diabetes using pre-clinical models. Previously, I obtained a M.Sc. in biomedical sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I then went on to do a PhD at the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF), liaised to the University of Zurich, in Davos, Switzerland, where I looked into T cell-mediated immune regulation in the context of allergy. From there I moved to the University of Bristol, where my research addressed various aspects of both natural and induced immune tolerance in pre-clinical models of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), with a focus on the development and function of regulatory T cell subsets.
I joined the Peakman lab as part of my MSc in Immunology in February 2013. I worked on phenotyping T regulatory 1 cells using surrogate markers CD49b and LAG-3, supervised by Dr. Sefina Arif and Professor Mark Peakman. I then continued on in the lab and joined the MonopepT1de clinical trial team as a Research Assistant and worked on various assays involved to study the immune effect of peptide immunotherapy in newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetes patient. Currently, I am involved in the TrialNet Sub-study, looking at the disease heterogeneity of autoimmune responsiveness reflected in the rate of progression of type 1 diabetes.
After completing my BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds in 2012, I went on to work in Research & Development for Oxford Immunotec (a company producing diagnostic T-cell assays). I joined the Peakman lab as a Research Assistant in April 2016. My current work focuses on studying the immunological effects of peptide immunotherapy in patients with recent-onset type 1 diabetes.
Katrina Todd, MSc, PhD
I joined the Peakman laboratory in July 2016. My current research is focused on HLA and peptide presentation to CD8 cells. I studied for my PhD part-time at University College London, characterising the frequency and function of a rare subset of B-lymphocytes in patients with autoimmune kidney disease (2011-2016). Prior to this I obtained my MSc in Medical Immunology from King’s College London, whilst working in clinical laboratory supporting stem cell and solid organ transplantation (2007-2010).
Irma Pujol Autonell, PhD
I started my research career in 2007 as an undergraduate student at the Anthony Nolan Research Institute in London. After obtaining my bachelor's degree in Biotechnology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, I joined the Immunology Unit at the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute in Badalona. I was focused on developing and characterizing a new immunotherapy based on apoptosis to restore tolerance in type 1 diabetes. I obtained my PhD in July 2014 and I continued working on the development of a synthetic immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes in the same group. I joined Professor Mark Peakman’s group at the King’s College London in September 2016 as a post-doc researcher with a Marie Curie European Individual Fellowship. My goals are to understand the immunological mechanisms of destruction in the context of type 1 diabetes to apply that knowledge into antigen-specific immunotherapies to treat the disease.
After obtaining a BA in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, I completed an MRes in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at Imperial College London. I joined the Peakman lab in September 2016 as a research assistant, where I am currently focussed on elucidating the mechanisms of tolerance induction and so work towards the development of peptide immunotherapy
After obtaining a BSc in Biochemistry at King’s College London in 2014, I was employed as a Scientist within the biotechnology industry. In 2015, I began a Master of Research (MRes) degree in Biomedical and Translational Science at King's College London as part of the King’s Bioscience Institute (KBI) four-year MRes/PhD Programme. I joined the Peakman laboratory in October 2016 as a PhD student where my project focuses on hybrid peptides as T cell targets in type 1 diabetes.