Wellcome Trust PhD Student Cohort 2017
Academic and Work Experience Prior to Sept 2016 Programme Start: I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences with a Year in Industry at Imperial College London. During my third year of this degree, I completed an Industrial Placement in the Allergic Inflammation Discovery Performance Unit at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage.
PhD Programme – Year 1 – MRes and Project Rotations: During my first year of the Wellcome Trust 'Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine' Four-Year PhD Programme I completed three very different rotations: (1) I first investigated the heterogeneity of mesenchymal stem cells in a murine tooth model in Professor Paul Sharpe’s group. (2) Under the supervision of Dr Joana Neves and Professor Graham Lord, I then optimised a microinjection platform in murine small intestinal organoids, allowing us to study how bacteria interact with intestinal epithelial cells and gut-resident innate lymphoid cells in vitro. (3) During my final rotation with Dr Francesca Spagnoli, I studied hepatic and pancreatic lineage determination using a genetic lineage tracing system in mouse embryonic stem cells. Throughout this year I have also thoroughly enjoyed taking part in public engagement by talking about my research with pupils from local schools who have visited the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine.
PhD Programme – Years 2 to 4 – Doctoral Studies: The gut contains a diverse community of bacteria, crucial for improving the digestion of food and training of the immune system. Epithelial cells lining the gut and gut-resident immune cells face the forefront of interaction with these bacteria. Imbalance of the gut bacteria, alongside damage to the gut epithelium and changes to the inflammatory status of gut-resident immune cells are associated with the development of chronic inflammatory disorders of the gut, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). During my PhD, I will generate a novel 3D co-culture system which allows us to model bacterial, gut epithelial and gut-resident immune cell interactions in a dish. Using this system, we will investigate the impact of IBD-associated bacteria, such as Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum), on the integrity of the gut epithelium and the inflammatory status of gut-resident immune cells. F. nucleatum is an oral commensal, however intestinal colonisation is associated with colorectal cancer and IBD. By identifying and characterising pathways that govern the interactions between bacteria, gut epithelial cells and immune cells, this project aims to discover novel targets that modulate gut inflammation and promote gut epithelial repair. This could have therapeutic promise for the treatment of IBD.
Emily Read ORCID webpage