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Dr Sarah Curtis

Dr Sarah Curtis

Research Associate

School of Medicine

Email
curtiss5@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
029 2068 7060
Campuses
2F03, Henry Wellcome Building for Biomedical Research, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN

Overview

I'm a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Gallimore Godkin Cancer Immunology Lab (https://www.cancerimmunology.co.uk/). My research focuses on the study of cancer and influenza derived peptide epitopes and modification of peptide flanking residues (PFRs) as a universal means of increasing T-cell activation. I'm developing this approach in HLA-DR1 mice as a model of influenza infection.

Biography

I was awarded my PhD in Human Molecular Genetics at the University of Bristol in 2005. Title of thesis: Genetic Polymorphism within Osteo-Metabolic-related Genes and Their Association with Osteoarthritis (supervisors: Dr Mark Perry and Dr Jeff Bidwell). 

In 2007 I move to the University of Sydney, Australia where I spent three years postdoctoral training in molecular biology with Professor Juergen Reichardt. My work focused on characterising genetic variation of the HMG-CoA reductase gene in patients from the LIPID study.

I returned to the UK and in 2012, joined Professor Joanna Price's lab at the University of Bristol where I worked on projects characterising the Wnt signalling pathway in bone in response to mechanical strain.

Later in 2012, I joined Professor Sarah George`s lab at the Bristol Heart Institute, University of Bristol where I developed an adenoviral-based gene therapy for potential applications in late vein graft failure. 

I continued working in gene therapy joining Dr Alan Parker`s virology lab at Cardiff University in 2015, engineering adenoviral vectors for translational cancer applications. 

I joined the Gallimore Godkin laboratory as a Research Associate in November 2018, working on developing influenza virus-based vaccines using a humanised HLA-DR1 mouse model. 

Honours and awards

  • Cardiff University Infection and Immunity Annual Meeting best ECR poster prize (2019)
  • British Society for Immunology Celebrate Vaccines Award (2020)
  • Runner-up for Best Poster Prize, Infection and Immunity Annual Meeting, Cardiff University

  • Joint best research project dissertation, University of the West of England, Bristol (2001)
  • University of Bristol Travel Bursary for Bone and Tooth Society Annual Meeting, Sheffield, UK (2003)
  • University of Bristol Travel Bursary for European Calcified Tissue Society Conference - 30th European Symposium on Calcified Tissues, Rome, Italy (2003)

 

  

Professional memberships

2018 – present British Society of Immunology.  

2016-2017 British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy.    

2013-2014 British Atherosclerosis Society.  

2012 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.  

2011 The Genetics Society.   

2011 The Epigenetics Society.  

Academic positions

2018 - present: Research Associate, Division of Infection and Immunity, Cardiff University

2015 - 2018: Research Associate, Division of Cancer and Genetics, Cardiff University

2012 - 2014: Research Associate, Bristol Heart Institute, University of Bristol

2011 - 2012: Research Associate, School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol  

2007 - 2010: Research Fellow, Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Australia 

2001 - 2005: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). School of Medical and Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol

1996 - 2001: Bachelor of Science (Hons) Biomedical Science. University of the West of England

 

Speaking engagements

2020: British Society for Immunology Virtual Conference. 

2018: Cardiff University Annual Infection and Immunity Meeting.  

2017: 4th Annual Drug Discovery Congress, Cardiff.  

2016: 2nd Annual Drug Discovery Congress, Cardiff.  

Committees and reviewing

  • Grant reviewer for Health Research Council for New Zealand (2019)
  • Reviewer of manuscripts for Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer, Plos One, Journal of Orthopaedic Research, Inflammation Research and regular reviewer for Cancers  

Publications

2021

2020

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2010

2000

Teaching

Small group lecture, MSc students (Medical Microbiology: MBS 7008, Cardiff Metropolitan University) 

Vaccines generating a CD4+ T-cell response can delay, prevent or cure some cancers and infections. However, immunity is often inadequate, demonstrated by the high failure rate of cancer vaccines, or the challenges of generating a timely primary immune response against emerging viruses. The HLA class II bound peptide creates the structural determinant (i.e. epitope) recognized by CD4+ T-cells. Our laboratory has previously shown that particular amino acid substitutions in peptide flanking residues (PFRs) adjacent to an epitope transform its intrinsic immunogenicity leading to a striking increase in T-cell activation, even converting a null epitope into an effective immunogen. We propose using this universal approach to improve the inherent immunogenicity of a series of proteins by targeting these defined flanking residues. My research will focus on the development of vaccines for testing in vivo murine models of disease where CD4+ T-cell responses are known to be crucial to outcome: acute infection model (influenza) and chronic condition model (cancer).

Engagement

2017: British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy Meeting, Cardiff. Conference volunteer.

2016: Cancer Research UK Open Day, Cardiff. A showcase of Dr Parker`s laboratory, interacting with members of the general     public and re-constructing adenovirus structures using craft materials. 

2016: Blog article: Turning up the Heat on Cancer Immunotherapy. https://www.bsgct.org/turning-heat-cancer-immunotherapy/ British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy 

2015: British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy Meeting, Glasgow. Interacted with year 12 children and members of the general public showcasing the work of Dr Parker`s laboratory at Cardiff University. Demonstrated how we make viruses for cancer gene therapy using craft materials. 

Areas of expertise

External profiles