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Professor Susan Wong

Professor Susan Wong

Clinical Professor

School of Medicine

Email
wongfs@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2068 7000
Campuses
1F15 Tenovus Building, UHW Main Building

Overview

I have had many years of research experience in working on how the immune system damages the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas in type 1 diabetes. My research primarily focuses on causes and development of type 1 diabetes and has encompassed T cell immunology, B cell immunology, regulatory T cells, innate immunity –  and in recent years, our work has included studies in the role of the gut microbiome. As a member of the UK Type 1 Diabetes Consortium, I have also been involved in translational work in developing immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes and in early phase 1a clinical trials.

 

Biography

Education and Qualifications

Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, Bristol

Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) 

Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training, Diabetes and Endocrinology

PhD in Immunogenetics of Diabetes, Kings College School of Medicine, London  

Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) 

MBBS Kings College London 

BSc in Basic Medical Sciences with Biochemistry, (1st Class Hons) Kings College London 

Associate of King's College London                                                

                                               

                                                    

Honours and awards

2019                                        Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales

2018                                        Dorothy Hodgkin Lecture, Diabetes UK

2010                                        Mary Jane Kugel Award, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

2007                                        Mary Jane Kugel Award, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

2000-2007                               Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship in Clinical Science

1996-2000                               Career Development Award, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

1994-1996                               Post-doctoral Fellowship, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation         I

1993                                        Travelling Fellowship, Medical Research Council (UK)

1989-1992                               Training Fellowship, Medical Research Council (UK)

1990                                        R.D. Lawrence Research Prize in Diabetes,  King's College School of Medicine, London, UK

1980                                        Sambrooke Scholarship in Basic Medical Sciences, King's College   London, UK

1980                                        Alfred Hughes Memorial Prize for Anatomy, King's College London, UK   

1980                                        John W. Pickering Prize for Biochemistry, King's College London, UK

1980                                        Hare Prize for Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Physiology, King's College London, UK

1980                                        Barbara Wigley Memorial Prize for best woman student, King's College London, UK

Professional memberships

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians

Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland

Association of British Clinical Diabetologists

Diabetes UK

European Assocation for the Study of Diabetes

Immunology of Diabetes Society

American Diabetes Association

Society for Endocrinology

British Society for Immunology

American Association of Immunology

British Medical Association

Academic positions

  • 2010- present: Professor of Experimental Diabetes and Metabolism,  Division of Infection and Immunity, Systems Immunity URI, Cardiff University; Honorary Consultant Physician in Diabetes, Cardiff and Vale Health Board, Cardiff, UK                             
  • 2008-2010: Professor of Immunology, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol UK; Honorary Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Diabetes, United Bristol NHS Healthcare Trust, Bristol, UK
  • 2007-2008: Reader in Immunology, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol UK; Honorary Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Diabetes United Bristol NHS Healthcare Trust, Bristol, UK
  • 2000-2007 :Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow in Clinical Science, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol UK; Honorary Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Diabetes, United Bristol NHS Healthcare Trust, Bristol, UK
  • 1996-2000: Associate Research Scientist, JDRF Career Development Award, Section of Immunobiology, Yale School of Medicine, CT, USA
  • 1994-1996: JDRF Postdoctoral Fellow, Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, CT USA. PI: Dr. C.A. Janeway, Jr.
  • 1993 :Medical Research Council (UK) Travelling Fellow,    Immunobiology, Yale School of Medicine, CT USA.                              
  • 1989 - 1992 :Medical Research Council Training Fellow and Honorary Clinical Senior Registrar Departments of Medicine and Diabetes, King's College School of Medicine, London, UK.
  • 1987 - 1989: Clinical Registrar in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, and Thanet Distrist Hospital, Margate, UK.
  • 1985 -1987: Senior House Officer Rotation, Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  • 1984-1985: Senior House Officer, Middlesex Hospital, London, UK
  • 1983-1984: House Officer in Medicine and Surgery, Dulwich Hospital and Brook Hospitals, London, UK

Committees and reviewing

Chair of Animal Welfare and Research Panel, 2015- present

Member of University Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team, 2013-2016

Chair of Athena SWAN School of Medicine Self Assement Team, 2013-2016

Member of School of Medicine Equality and Diversity Committee

Chair of Division of Infection and Immunity Equality and Diversity Committee

 National and International funding roles and panels

National Institutes of Health (USA) – special emphasis panel review for diabetes 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017

Diabetes UK Scientific Review Committee 2012- present

Cnpq Brazil 2015

European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes 2014

JDRF Scientific Review Committee Chairman 2007-2010; 2013-present

Member of Biology and Medicine Panel, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong 2013-2014

National Institutes of Health (USA) – Pathfinder  review panel 2008

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Research Priority Advisory Committee (2007-2009)

European Union FP7 for Diabetes 2007

JDRF Scientific Review Committee 2004-2007

Member of Steering Committee of the "Diabetes Vaccine Development Center" (DVDC), jointly Australian NHMRC and JDRF.2000-2004

NIH Ad hoc review committee for NIAID 2003

JDRF Special Grant Review Committee 2001

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Scientific Task Force (2000)

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee for special funds in diabetes (2000)

Publications

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

Our work in research in type 1 diabetes starts from basic science to try to understand why individuals develop diabetes.  Together with studying the processes that lead to disease, we also work on a number of projects to develop immunotherapy to prevent diabetes, and also have very  close collaboration with Professor Colin Dayan in the development of immunotherapy for people who have type 1 diabetes.  Our work focuses on a number of different areas.

1. The role of CD8 cytotoxic T cells in the development of diabetes.

We have studied insulin-reactive CD8 T cells for many years, aiming to understand why these cells damage insulin-producing islet beta cells as well as how to regulate them.  

Medical Research Council 2010-2014 Development of insulin-reactive CD8 T cells

2. The role of B cells in the pathogenesis and regulation of diabetes. 

B cells produce antibodies, a good marker of future developement of type 1 diabetes.  These antibodies do not themselves cause damage, but the B cells that produce them are involved in communication with the T cells to cause diabetes.  We also know that some B cells may be able to regulate damaging T cells.  We are currently studying these regulatory cells and whether they could be increased to help control damaging T cells in diabetes.

Funded by:

Medical Research Council  2013- 2018 The role of B cell regulation in type 1 diabetes in NOD mice

Cnpq (Brazil) 2013-2017 Science Without Borders PhD studentship B cells in type 1 diabetes

3. Development of immunotherapy using chimeric antigen receptors

Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that modify T cells for therapy in cancer have now been approved for human therapy by the FDA (USA).  We have been working on a similar strategy for type 1 diabetes with Prof Gideon Gross from Migal Institute in Israel to design an approach to reduce the damaging cytotoxic CD8 T cells that damage the islets.  We modify cytotoxic cells as well as T cells that can control other T cells to make them specifically target the cells that damage the islet beta cells. This is a novel type of immunotherapy that is still in the early stages of development.

Funded by:

BIRAX (Britain Israel Research and academic exchange partnership) and JDRF 2015- 2018 Genetically-modified T cells for the protection of regenerated beta-cells in type 1 diabetes

Diabetes UK Research Grant 2015-2018  Targeting islet-specific CD8 T cells in type 1 diabetes

4. Study of potential immunotherapeutic enhancement of delivery into the skin using gold nanoparticles and microneedles.

We have worked with Professor James Birchall and Dr Sion Coulman in the School of Pharmacy to investigate the delivery of peptides with microneedles into the skin for development of immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes.

Funded by:

2012-2017 European Union FP7 Consortium Enhanced Epidermal Antigen Specific Immunotherapy (Director/chief investigator Prof Colin Dayan)

5. Study of the gut microbiome.

Type 1 diabetes occurs because of genetic susceptibility factors as well as interaction of these factors with the environment.  Type 1 diabetes is increasing at a rate faster than can be explained by changes in genetics.  Our studies with Prof Li Wen at Yale University have been to investigate the role of the gut bacteria in influencing type 1 diabetes.  

Funded by:

2014-2016 European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes Modulation of insulin-specific T cell receptor repertoire by the gut microbiome

6. Study of people at risk of diabetes development who have not progressed to type 1 diabetes.

B cells produce antibodies, a good marker of future developement of type 1 diabetes.  Together with Dr Kathleen Gillespie at Bristol University, we have been studying immune cells in people who are at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes, because they have two or more autoantibodies associated with development of diabetes but have still not become diabetic after 10 years

Funded by

2015-2021 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (Principal Investigator Dr Kathleen Gillespie)

7.  Analysis of B cells in newly-diagnosed Type 1 diabetes and B cell migration studies

B cells are found in the pancreatic islets in people with type 1 diabetes - they are the second most abundant after CD8 T cells.  We have studied the characteristics of B cells in the blood of people who have type 1 diabetes to test if there are differences from people who do not have diabetes.  We found that a migration marker is lower on some memory B cells and are now studying these B cells further.

Funded by

2012-2016 Diabetes UK Analysis of B cells in newly-diagnosed Type 1 diabetes

2018-2021 Diabetes UK B cell chemotaxis in type 1 diabetes mellitus