The Speak group aims to further uncover the interaction between the immune system and developing tumours, with a long-term view to enable this to be manipulated for the development of new therapies. This involves polychromatic flow cytometry (analysis and sorting), imaging-based techniques, DNA and RNA sequencing plus in vitro and in vivo models to understand the function of genes in the immune system. We also utilise large scale genetic engineering tools such as CRISPR to identify novel factors that regulate the immune system and the interplay with cancer cells. I currently lead two projects funded through Open Targets investigating the interaction between immune cells and tumours. One has a focus on Natural Killer cells and their receptors and the other how the tumour microenvironment can affect T cells using CRISPR-based genetic screens.
Previously during my time at the Sanger Institute, I worked in the group of Dr David Adams uncovering how deficiency of particular genes affects the immune response to pulmonary metastatic colonisation together with Dr Louise van der Weyden. Prior to this I managed a small team responsible for high-throughput immunophenotyping of knockout mice as part of mouse pipelines and was involved with the The Infection and Immunity Immunophenotyping (3i) consortium.
My first postdoctoral position and DPhil studies were performed at Oxford University with Prof Frances Platt. Here I studied the impact of lysosomal storage in Niemman-Pick type C disease patients on the development and function of Natural Killer cells and invariant Natural Killer T cells. During this time, I performed biomarker studies on blood samples from various lysosomal storage disorder patients around the world. Using various biochemical techniques my DPhil studies involved invariant Natural Killer T cell ligands.