November 2016 Dr Tamsin Cargill
How did you become interested in translational gastroenterology? My first job as a newly qualified Doctor was on a gastroenterology ward. I was captivated by the medical and human complexity of many of the patients.
The Academic Foundation Programme in Oxford allowed me to spend 4 months in a scientific research setting and I wanted to pursue my interest in gastroenterology further. During this time I was lucky enough to work with Prof Ellie Barnes and Prof Paul Klenerman on the IgG4-Related Disease Study, which spans the interface between hepatology and immunology. I have not looked back since.
Q: What are you currently working on and what importance does your work hold for current patients with gastrointestinal issues?
I continue work on the IgG4-Related Disease Study with Prof Barnes. IgG4-RD is a systemic fibro-inflammatory condition, first described in the pancreas as autoimmune pancreatitis. The pathogenesis and natural history is still being elucidated and so it is an exciting field where many questions remain unanswered. The Study is on the NIHR portfolio and recruits at 12 sites across the UK. We are currently stetting up a European database of IgG4-Realted Disease patients, funded by a grant from EASL (European Association for the Study of the Liver). This will enable the study of the natural history of the disease in a large international cohort. In the lab I have been looking at the role of T cells and B cells in disease pathogenesis, with the goal of identifying biomarkers of disease activity and novel therapeutic targets.
More recently I have started to work on an immunotherapy vaccine to treat chronic Hepatitis B. This is a really exciting project, with the ultimate aim being a curative treatment for the virus.
Q: What do you enjoy most about scientific research?
For me, the journey of discovery to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ a disease process occurs and manifests at both the cellular level and human level, will always be interesting and compelling. This process is most satisfying when, as a society, we utilise good quality research data to benefit patients through prevention or treatment of disease.
Q: What’s the best part of being an Oxford University TGU member?
Working collaboratively with others through sharing knowledge and skills to improve our understanding of disease in order to improve the diagnosis, treatment and illness experience of patients with gastrointestinal and liver conditions.