ISSF Springboard Fellowship 

The role of antibody-secreting B cells in epithelial barrier homeostasis and gastrointestinal cancer

Our bodies are constantly exposed to agents in the environment that can potentially damage tissues such as the skin. Our immune systems need to be able to respond to such challenges by mounting protective responses without becoming excessively active. An overactive immune response is associated with a number of inflammatory diseases including dermatitis and psoriasis. However, a lack of response may predispose tissues to diseases including cancer. Thus, the immune system must achieve a balanced response to ensure we stay healthy.

My work has focused on understanding how such immune responses are activated following damage to epithelial barrier sites and how they are regulated. Our epithelial barriers are full of immune cells that are strategically placed to recognise danger and respond rapidly to promote tissue health. This work is important so that we can identify targets for new therapies to prevent excessive inflammatory responses. Such work may also help design new strategies for the treatment of other diseases such as cancer.