Colour within the lines – a personal perspective of navigating academia as a black woman
University of Oxford
My research interest is focused on gaining deeper insights into the dynamic role of CD4 and CD8+ T cells in the development and maintenance of immunity to infectious diseases.
For my Ph.D. studies at Brunel University, London, I investigated the role of 2 immunoregulatory genes - Egr2 and 3 - in regulating the immune response. We identified a novel role of these genes as key players in regulating CD4+ Tfh cell differentiation. For my post-doctoral work at the University of Oxford, I have focused more on human immunology where I investigated the role of T cells particularly CD4+ Tfh cells as one of the key cellular drivers of antibody response leading to the induction of broadly neutralising antibodies (bNAbs) in HIV infection. I proceeded to work on the RIO (Rockefellar, Imperial and Oxford Collaboration) HIV clinical trial, a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, where long-acting dual bNAbs are administered to HIV+ volunteers followed by treatment interruption with time to viral rebound as the primary endpoint. Faced with the pandemic, I have used my knowledge and skillsets in HIV immunology to work on characterising the immunology induced by SARS-COV-2 in natural infection and vaccination settings across immunocompetent and immunosuppressed cohorts, addressing pertinent questions regarding magnitude, durability and quality of the immune response. The insights gained from my work on HIV and SARS-COV-2 immunology is crucial in informing the development of therapeutic modalities including vaccine strategies useful for the rational design of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.