I am a molecular and cellular biologist by training, but I have always applied this basic research skills to study human health and diseases.
How did you become interested in translational gastroenterology?
I am a molecular and cellular biologist by training, but I have always applied this basic research skills to study human health and diseases. After a phD in studying skin inflammatory diseases, I wanted to explore the transposability of my findings across tissues and joined the Powrie lab to study the role of fibroblasts in shaping the immune cells landscapes in gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases. I believe that working in a translational research unit helps my research to stay focus on what is needed to help clinicians in their practice and patients’ needs.
What are you currently working on and what importance does your work hold for current patients with gastrointestinal issues?
The complex multifactorial nature of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and heterogeneous clinical phenotypes restrains our ability to target new biological therapies to those most likely to benefit. We have recently shown that patients with IBD can be stratified by histopathological features that reflect different cellular and molecular context and that this could inform therapeutic choice. I am now employing a multi-disciplinary approach using human IBD tissue to establish a cellular and molecular atlas of IBD pathophysiology which could help patients’ stratification for therapeutic choices and disease management based on biological evidence. In parallel I am cross referencing this human finding to mouse models to identify the most relevant one to mimic human physiopathology and test new therapeutic targets.
What do you enjoy most about scientific research?
I have always enjoyed jigsaws and I approach my research similarly; I like piling up pieces of evidence from previous research and asking what are we missing and how can I improve the gap in our knowledge by posing the question in a different manner. I believe that this is a great time to be a young research scientist. The recent advance in technology and computational science, allows the opportunity to re-invent the research culture to create multi-disciplinary teams, partnership with lab across the world and develop new expertise to answer big questions that will benefit both the fundamental science and translational research.
What’s the best part of being an Oxford University TGU member?
The Oxford University TGU is a truly multi-disciplinary team where medical and researcher staff are connected and work alongside each other. This allows my work to stay connected to the current clinical practice needs and the feedback I receive from clinical colleagues and the access to patients' samples is critical to shape the development of my research projects.