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Dr Sarah Curtis

Dr Sarah Curtis

Research Associate

029 2068 7060
2F03, Henry Wellcome Building for Biomedical Research, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN


I'm a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Gallimore Godkin Cancer Immunology Lab ( 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.


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 (2020)
  • British Society for Immunology Celebrate Vaccines Award (2020)
  • Runner-up for Best Poster Prize, Infection and Immunity Annual Meeting, Cardiff University (2016)
  • 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)
  • Joint best research project dissertation, University of the West of England, Bristol (2001)



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  














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).


Past projects


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. 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.