In the Thornton group, we are interested in the mucosal immune system, particularly the interaction between the immune compartments of the gut and lungs. During her PhD with Max Krummel at UCSF, Emily developed intravital microscopy techniques to study allergen-specific T cells in the lung. Upon moving to the Powrie lab at the University of Oxford, she focused the microscope on ILCs and microbe-reactive T cells in the gut. Combining expertise in the two immune compartments, the new research group will focus on the potential for the immune system at one mucosal site to influence the other.
Current work in the lab focuses on the immune response in the gut to SARS-CoV2 infection. As a site of infection and home to a large population of immune cells, the gut has the potential to skew the systemic response for good or ill. Emily and Dana are working with the ISARIC4C consortium, collaborators at Imperial College, and Oxford Vaccine Group to understand the nature of the gut immune response and whether it is important for disease outcome.
Future work in the group will expand into other aspects of lung immunology that may be impacted by microbe-reactive T cells or immune cells educated in the gut.
In addition to science, Emily enjoys baking and spending time with her family. You can also find her on twitter @emilyethornton. Outside the lab, Dana enjoys reading, baking and musical theatre. She is also on twitter @costigan_dana.