James Reading - Post Doctoral Research Associate
Following an undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a Masters in Biotechnology I attained my PhD in Immunology in the Dept of Infectious Diseases here at King’s College London in 2010, subsequently joining Dr Tim Tree’s research team as a Post Doc in September 2010. Having originally studied CD4+ T cell immunology in the context of infection throughout my PhD my recent work has focused on the characterisation of intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms of T cell regulation.I am currently evaluating a novel approach that hopes to use specific types of stem cells derived from adult bone marrow to suppress the detrimental T cell responses observed in Type 1 Diabetics, particularly those that have undergone Islet transplantation. Should this cell-based therapy prove efficacious in Type 1 Diabetes it may have far reaching applications as a medicinal tool for the amelioration of transplant rejection or the onset/progression of other autoimmune disorders.
Jennie Yang - Post Doctoral Research Associate
I graduated from Imperial College London in 2006 with a degree in Biochemistry. Subsequently, I attained my PhD in Medical Genetics at the University of Cambridge in 2010 under the guidance of Professor John Todd. Continuing with my PhD research on Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), I then joined Dr. Tim Tree’s group as a Post Doc in June 2011. My research focuses on the genetics and mechanisms of T1D. I am currently examining the impact of defective IL-2 signalling on regulatory T cell (Treg) function in T1D. To achieve this, I am assessing the extent of IL-2 signalling in large groups of long-standing T1D patients as well as highly characterised genotype-selected unaffected siblings, by using, for example, STAT5 phosphorylation, FOXP3 expression and induction, cytokine production and cell suppression as a read out. Administrating low doses of IL-2 has been shown to improve Treg function and prevent the onset of diabetes in disease-prone models. It is of interest to me whether a similar approach can be utilised in humans, specifically targeting a subgroup of T1D patients that shows a reduction in IL-2 signalling, thus potentially defective Treg function.
Shereen Sabbah - Post Doctoral Research Associate
Following completion of an undergraduate degree in Medical Science (Cell and Molecular pathology) in 2007, I attained a PhD in Viral Immunology from the School of Cancer Sciences in 2011, both from the University of Birmingham, UK. I Subsequently joined Dr Tim Tree’s lab as a Post Doc in February 2012, where my research focuses on identifying and characterising Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) autoimmune memory T cells. This work is being carried across two T1D patient cohorts - in islet transplant (ITx) patients and more recently long-standing T1D patients (LS-T1D).
Following a collaboration with the UK islet transplant consortium (UKITC) over the past 3.5 years, I have identified and isolated CD4+ T cells using single-cell sorting to a range of islet-associated autoantigens from pre- and post-ITx patients. Using single-cell PCR, the repertoire and phenotype of these T cells are being defined using TCR sequencing and multi-gene fluidigm analysis.
The second arm of my work is in collaboration with Andrew Hattersley’s lab at the University of Exeter. The main aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that there are differences in the T-cell mediated immune dysfunction between patients with LS-T1D that retain endogenous insulin secretion (high C-peptide) compared to LS-T1D patients with low levels (low C-peptide). This hypothesis is being assessed using multi-parameter flow cytometry, autoreactive T cell dye dilution and Treg suppression assays on patient PBMCs.
Caroline Hull - PhD student
I graduated from Queen Mary University of London in 2010 with a BSc in Biochemistry with Microbiology and then completed an MSc in Immunology at Imperial College London. In 2015 I completed my PhD in Dr. Tim Tree’s lab where my research focussed on producing populations of islet-specific regulatory T cells using lentiviral gene transfer, with the aim to suppress the autoimmune response present in type 1 diabetics. My research now focuses on isolating a rare population of islet-specific regulatory T cells from healthy individuals and type 1 diabetics in order to better characterise their gene expression profiles and mechanisms of function.