Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Dr Carly May Bliss

Dr Carly May Bliss

Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow

Yr Ysgol Meddygaeth

Email
blissc@cardiff.ac.uk
Campuses
Adeilad Henry Wellcome ar gyfer Ymchwil Biofeddygol, Ysbyty Athrofaol Cymru, Parc y Mynydd Bychan, Caerdydd, CF14 4XN
Users
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Trosolwg

Immunology, virology and vaccinology. 

My research interests are vaccine development and the identification of protective immune subsets. My focus is universal vaccines against respiratory viruses, including influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2. Universal vaccines aim to protect against multiple viral strains, subtypes and variants, without the need for annual vaccine re-formulation and re-administration. My research strategy uses novel adenoviral vectors as vaccines to induce potent, durable and broadly reactive adaptive immune responses against highly conserved viral proteins, which features under-explored vaccine targets and embraces a forward thinking approach to vaccinology.  

Bywgraffiad

I completed a BA in Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford, and subsequently worked as a Research Assistant at the University’s Jenner Institute where I performed extensive immunological testing of human peripheral blood T cells as part of clinical vaccine trials against malaria. This included multiple overseas placements at MRC laboratories in The Gambia and Wellcome Trust laboratories in Kenya, in addition to rapid response clinical testing of Ebola virus vaccines during the 2014 outbreak.

My PhD focussed on immune responses to vaccines against malaria, specifically using poxviral and chimpanzee adenoviral vectored vaccines. My research explored the immune responses induced by vaccination in both adult and paediatric cohorts. This included the development of a novel in vitro assay to measure antigen-specific CD8+ T cell killing of malaria-infected hepatocytes, and a fully validated whole blood intracellular cytokine staining assay for roll-out at clinical vaccine testing field sites in sub-Saharan Africa.  

A shift of focus as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Nuffied Department of Experimental Medicine (University of Oxford) led me to evaluate adaptive cellular responses following clinical administration of candidate vaccines against hepatitis C virus, with particular focus on T cell phenotype and proliferation, in addition to pre-clinical animal model development. A Postdoctoral Research Fellow position at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital (New York) furthered my interest in viral pathogens, with particular focus on influenza A virus. My pre-clinical research explored the use of human adenovirus type 5 (Ad5)-based vaccine vectors to induce broadly reactive cellular and humoral immune responses against the influenza haemagglutinin as an approach for universal influenza virus vaccine development. My research extended to the evaluation of human T cell responses following “chimeric inactivated” and “chimeric live-attenuated” universal influenza vaccine candidates undergoing Phase I clinical testing.   

At Cardiff University, I am funded by a Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) Fellowship for pre-clinical universal vaccine development against influenza virus. My research aims to induce broadly cross-reactive humoral and cellular immune responses against conserved regions of the influenza viral haemagglutinin. Specifically I utilise rare species adenoviral vectors with low seroprevalence and Ad5-based vector pseudotypes, which aim to circumvent pre-existing adenovirus immunity from highly seroprevalent adenoviruses such as Ad1, Ad2, Ad5, whilst inducing broadly protective adaptive immune responses against multiple influenza virus subtypes with a single vaccination regimen. My interests include the identification of functional immune subsets within the lung mucosa that can be induced by vaccination and which underpin protection from infection and disease. Through my ISSF fellowship, I work closely with many research groups within the School of Medicine, particularly those from the Division of Cancer and Genetics, for adenoviral vector development and engineering, and from the Division of Infection and Immunity, for vaccine evaluation and immunological phenotyping.

Awards and Honours

  • 2020: Awarded Best ECR Oral Presentation at Infection & Immunity Annual Meeting (Cardiff, UK).
  • 2020: Awarded Centre of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) Training Grant.
  • 2019: Awarded  Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) Vaccines Travel Grant.
  • 2019: Awarded  MDPI Antibodies Excellent Young Researcher Certificate.
  • 2014-2019: Awarded British Society for Immunology International Travel Grants.
  • 2016: Awarded scholarship for Molecular Approaches to Malaria conference (Lorne, Australia)
  • 2013: Awarded scholarship for Ceppellini Advanced School of Immunology meeting (Naples, Italy).

Professional Memberships                

  • 2020 - present: Member of British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy, including the role as ECR Board member.
  • 2018 - present: Member of Microbiology Society                                                                         
  • 2012 - present: Member of British Society for Immunology   

Internal Committees

  • 2021 – present: Seminar series organiser for Institute of Cancer & Genetics, Cardiff University.
  • 2021 - present: Member of Network for Researcher Development (NeRD) Organising Committee at Institute of Cancer & Genetics, Cardiff University.

External Committees

  • 2021 - present: Editor at Frontiers in Immunology; Vaccines and Molecular Therapeutics.
  • 2020 - present: Early Carer Researcher on the board of the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (BSGCT).
  • 2020 - present: Co-chair of BSGCT Early Career Development and Collaboration subcommittee.
  • 2018 - present: Regular manuscript reviewer for a range of peer-reviewed journals.

Cyhoeddiadau

2022

2021

2020

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2018

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2014

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2012

Addysgu

  • Supervise undergraduate and PTY student projects.
  • Supervise PhD student projects. 
  • Provide PhD student feedback as part of ECR-PhD student pairing programme.
  • Deliver postgraduate student seminars.

Adenoviral Vector Development

Adenoviruses (Ad) can be used as vaccine vectors, whereby a transgene is selected based on a specific antigen from a pathogen of interest. Following inoculation with the Ad vectored vaccine, the transgene is expressed at a high level, leading to the generation of potent immune responses against the encoded antigen. Pre-existing immunity to human Ad can hinder this type of vaccine platform, and is a therefore a key consideration when developing viral vectored vaccines. My research explores the use of rare species Ads and viral pseudotypes to induce potent immune response against the vaccine antigen whilst circumventing pre-existing immunity against the vaccine vector. Rare species Ads have low seroprevalence in the human population, while viral pseudotypes aim to avoid pre-existing immunity via modifications to immunodominent capsid proteins. These two approaches underpin my novel vaccine research into respiratory pathogens. 

Universal Influenza Virus Vaccines

Universal influenza virus vaccines aim to protect against multiple viral strains and subtypes through the induction of broadly reactive immune responses. This can be achieved by targeting conserved influenza virus proteins, with the aim of generating influenza virus vaccines that do not require annual re-formulation and re-administration. My research targets the conserved portion of the influenza viral haemagglutinin (HA), termed the HA stalk domain, using novel Ad vectored vaccine approaches. This strategy negates the issues associated with egg-based influenza vaccine production and the uncertainty of matching influenza vaccine strains to the seasonal circulating strains. 

Universal SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines

Using lessons learned in the universal influenza virus vaccine field, I am developing vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 (the causative virus of COVID-19) to induce immune responses that are reactive against multiple variants of concern. This work focuses on inducing potent immune responses against conserved regions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, in addition to highly conserved non-spike targets. 

My Research Goals

  1. Generating rare species Ad vectors and Ad vector pseudotypes encoding conserved virus antigens, to induce broad immune responses against multiple virus subtypes and variants, whilst circumventing pre-existing Ad-based immunity. 
  2. Evaluating mucosal and systemic immune responses against conserved influenza and SARS-CoV-2 antigens, through quantification and phenotyping of antibody and T cell responses in lung tissue, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, peripheral blood and the spleen, and elucidating their functional profile and mechanisms of action.
  3. Mapping immune responses down to specific T cell epitopes and antibody binding sites to evaluate the level of cross-reactivity, and determining protective capacity against different influenza virus subtypes using both in vivo and ex vivo experimentation.

Supervision

I currently supervise:

  • Ms Aimee Lucignoli – Cardiff University, UK. Undergraduate Professional Training Year (PTY) student; Re-targetting SARS-CoV-2 cellular immunity towards cancer.
  • Ms Caitlin Dop – Cardiff University, UK. 3rd year Pharmacology Research Project student; Evaluating pre-clinical immunogenicity of adenoviral vectored vaccines encoding SARS-CoV-2 non-structual proteins. 
  • Ms Rebecca Wallace – Cardiff University, UK. PhD student funded by Cancer Research UK; Development of precision virotherapies capable of evading anti-vector immunity.
  • Ms Rosie Mundy - Cardiff University, UK. PhD student funded by GW4; Structural and biological insights into novel adenovirus based platforms for therapeutic applications.

I have previously supervised:

  • Ms Hannah Sharpe – University of Oxford, UK. PhD rotation funded by Wellcome Trust studentship in Infection, Immunology and Translational Medicine (IITM); Characterising the T cell response of rats infected with a rat hepacivirus.
  • Ms Caitlin Dop – Cardiff University, UK. Undergraduate Professional Training Year (PTY) student; Designing broadly reactive vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 using adenoviral vectors.

I am interesting in supervising students in the areas of:

  • Adenoviral vector platforms for gene delivery. 
  • Anti-vector immunity to vectored vaccines. 
  • Vaccine immunology and pre-clinical testing.
  • Immunity against viral pathogens. 

Past projects

Engagement

I am currently an Early Career Representative on the Board of the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (BSGCT) and participate actively in the society’s work both with researchers and the public, including contribution of lay blog articles on gene and cell therapy to the society's website (https://www.bsgct.org/education/bsgct-blogs.aspx). I have spoken at multiple outreach events: Development and Alumni Relations Showcase seminar at Cardiff University (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3PRkiJ0KEM&t=1370s); Welsh Government's celebration of International Women's Day (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57IGp8cdA80), and have given interviews on student radio and national television on the topic of vaccine development. I have hosted primary and secondary school student work experience placements in both the UK and USA, and am currently a mentor for PhD students. I have contributed to public engagement events such as World Hepatitis Day at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, and I maintain an active social media presence with promotion of accessible scientific events, materials and articles.