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Dr Katherine Smith

Dr Katherine Smith

Lecturer

School of Biosciences

Email
smithk28@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 4303
Campuses
C/4.06, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

I am a Disglair lecturer in Biomedicine in the School of Biosciences. I am interested in the impact of pathogen-driven immune-regulation on inflammatory disorders, particularly the interaction between helminth parasite infection and cancer.  My interests extend to how other risk factors for cancer, such as diet, influence host immune responses, metabolism and the gut microbiota.

My group is linked with the Microbiomes, Microbes and Informatics (MMI) group within the Cardiff School of Biosciences.

I also hold an Honorary Research Associate position at the University of Cape Town, South Africa

You can also find our publication information on ResearchGate. Please, do not hesitate to follow me on Twitter.

Biography

Publications

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2014

2010

Teaching

I carry out a range of teaching from year 2 to integrated masters students, and the supervision of postgraduate PhD and MSc project students.  I am also a tutor for 2nd, 3rd year and PTY students and a mentor.

My teaching experience includes contributions to: 

  • BI2231: Cell Biology
  • BI3351: Contemporary Topics in Disease
  • BI4003: Integrated Masters - Frontiers in Biosciences
  • BI3001: Biosciences Final Year Project
  • BI3155: Infection Biology and Epidemiology

I am also assessment lead for BI3351and will take up a Staff/Student liason role in November 2020

We are interested in how intestinal pathogens, such as parasitic helminths, influence important inflammatory diseases, like cancer. The interaction between parasite infection and cancer is particularly important in low- and middle- income countries, where infectious disease is thought to result in over 1/3 of cancers, and where the incidence of all cancers is increasing exponentially. Our aim is to make use of our knowledge of host immune responses to helminth infection in order to control inflammatory disease and anti-parasite immunity.

Host Immune Response

Infection with helminth parasites is associated with the regulation of several inflammatory disorders including airway inflammation, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. In some situations, helminth-induced “immune-regulation” could be detrimental to the host by impairing vaccine efficacy, immunity to co-infections or anti-tumour responses. We are interested in understanding how helminths influence the inflammation associated with colorectal cancer (colitis), as well as cancer progression. In addition, we wish to understand how other risk factors for cancer, such as diet change, impact on disease. We are also interested in how gastrointestinal helminth infection can have a long-term and systemic impact on host immunity, including susceptibility to human papillomavirus infections and cervical cancer progression. We hope this work will help to identify new host pathways we can target, in order to reduce the incidence of cancer.

Helminth Immunity

Over 1.5 billion people are infected with soil-transmitted helminths (24% of the world’s population). Although drug treatment exists, there are no vaccines for disease, and as long as the helminth infection remains in the soil, people in endemic areas are at risk of infection and re-infection, throughout their lifetime. Morbidity following infection is associated with a high intensity of parasites and in our hands, is determined by the immune status of the host. We aim to target host responses to parasite infection, in order to modify helminth survival and limit host morbidity.

Supervision

I am interested in supervising MSc and PhD students in the areas of:

  • Helminth immunity
  • Immune-regulation
  • Cancer progression

Past projects

  • Supervisor for Brittany Amber Jacobs (MSc Med Clinical Science and Immunology, University of Cape Town) - Cancer cell behaviour following parasite exposure (awarded 2018)
  • Supervisor for Brunette Katsandegwaza (PhD Clinical Science and Immunology, University of Cape Town) - Determining the impact of Heligmosomoides polygyrus infection on the
    development of colitis (awarded 2020)