Institute: University of Nottingham
I graduated from the University of Wales in 1973 with a BSc in Zoology. This was followed with an MSc in Immunology at the University of Birmingham in 1974 and I completed my PhD in Immunology in 1977. In 1977 I joined AstraZeneca, Loughborough, as an Industrial Research Scientist. In 1981 I joined the University of Nottingham as a MRC Postdoctoral Researcher, was promoted to Lecturer in Immunology, School of Biological Sciences, in 1983 and Reader in Immunology in 1991. In 1996 I was awarded a Wellcome Research Leave Fellowship which I undertook at the University of Leicester's Centre for Mechanisms of Human Toxicity. I joined the School of Pharmacy in 1998 as Chair in Parasite Immunology.
I am interested in the way a variety of organisms interact with the human body. Initially, I became interested in how and why nematode parasites stimulated the allergic phenotype. In an industrial setting, we were then able to exploit this interaction to develop drugs to alter the allergic phenotype. This led me in turn to investigate the evolutionary basis for allergy per se. Through the establishment of tropical research bases, particularly in Papua New Guinea, on Karkar Island, we discovered that the hookworm parasite of humans, Necator americanus, was actually partially controlled by the allergic phenotype. In other words, allergy has value. However, the immunological balance appeared to fall in favour of the parasite. This led to the thesis that worm infection could be used therapeutically to counter-control allergy, and other immunological diseases, a thesis currently under active exploration in a number of laboratories worldwide. In a similar vein, we have studied Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and discovered that its chemical language, quorum sensing (QS), was active in suppressing the immune system, allowing the infection to thrive. Prospective outcomes of this research include the discovery of novel immune suppressive therapeutics, and vaccines against QS. In addition, we have recently discovered how the medicinal maggot Lucilia sericata cleans poorly healing wounds in patients. As a result, we have isolated several potential stand-alone wound management agents.
Web Links of Interest