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Mesenchymal stem cells have the capacity to differentiate into fat (adipogenesis see image above)  and bone (osteogenesis) lineages. © Image supplied by Dr Karen English
Mesenchymal stem cells have the capacity to differentiate into fat (adipogenesis see image above) and bone (osteogenesis) lineages.

Research mission and themes

Research Mission

TRIG's Research Mission is:

To conduct high quality, relevant, novel and internationally competitive research in immunology, transplantation and regenerative medicine

To train and support future research and clinical leaders in immunology and transplantation

Research Themes

Some of our current research themes include:


  • Assessing the feasibility of reducing immunosuppression in renal transplant recipients with the use of regulatory T cells (Treg).
  • Visualising rejection and graft acceptance
  • Understanding the impact of infection and memory T cells on transplant outcome
  • Immunological profiling of leucocyte populations following transplantation
  • Identification of therapeutic protocols that promote the development of regulatory T cells
  • Understanding the role of B cells and other regulatory immune cells in transplantation tolerance
  • Investigating the impact of immunosuppressive drugs on the development of cancer in transplant patients
  • Discovering novel therapeutic interventions

Advanced Research Strategies

Researchers in TRIG have the opportunity, experience, skills and facilities to conduct research which is at the forefront of basic, translational and clinical science. 

Our research projects focus on key methodologies and techniques  with the objective of delivering a more satisfactory outcome for people who undergo organ transplantation.

Our advanced research strategies include:

Biomarkers and Personalised Medicine

The development of Biological Markers* (Biomarkers) will benefit patients by allowing individualised patient treatment, i.e. tailor made therapy or personalised medicine.  This means that clinicians will be able to reduce drug side effects and improve the quality of life for patients as the treatment they receive will be unique to their own specific needs. 

Using this approach means that some patients may be able to benefit from reduced immunosuppression if they are shown to be at a lesser risk of rejection.   It will also allow the clinician to make better decisions about the status of the patient’s health.  

Our research has led to better tools for monitoring the immune status of transplant patients allowing their doctor to identify problems before they happen.

TRIG researchers are investigating potential biomarkers that will allow for:

• the analysis of a patient’s immunological pre-transplant status allowing them to receive an optimised combination of immunosuppressive drugs

• the early identification of rejection graft deterioration occurs

• the early demonstration of unresponsiveness or tolerance to the transplant

Working with transplant clinicians both locally and in Europe, we have tracked the immune system of transplant recipients to chart their immune status and reconstitution after treatment. This has contributed to the identification of valuable biomarkers which we are now going to use to identify patients at increased or reduced risk of rejection or of losing their transplant.

Research being undertaken by the European BIOdrIM consortium of which we are a member, is building on the results of RISET, a previous EU study, by using decision making, based on validated biomarkers, to personalise immunosuppression for transplant patients.  In this study, patients are stratified according to their immunological responsiveness to their transplant with the aim of minimizing long term immunosuppression as much as is feasible and as early as possible in a bid to decrease the adverse effects of the immunosuppressive regimen.

*(A biomarker is something in the body that can be measured in order to tell doctors how a treatment is working or how a disease is progressing )

Translational Research

In order to maximise research potential it is no longer enough to conduct research in isolation; there is a need to produce results which can be translated into functional treatment which benefits the patient  - “from bench to bedside”. 

The TRIG research programme is designed to allow results from the laboratory to be taken as quickly and efficiently as possible into clinical practice leading to outcomes which will directly benefit the patient. 

Our many and varied multi-disciplinary collaborations, locally and internationally,  including those with industry and pharma companies, and our participation in projects which include clinical trials (including the TWO Study, the ONE Study, and BIODRIM) mean that the group can lead and participate in research which has meaningful results.

Novel Therapeutics 

B Cells as a therapeutic agent

We are currently investigating B cell tolerance, and B cell function, to determine how these specialised immune regulatory cells  may control or suppress the immune response against a transpalnt.  B cells that have the ability to secrete IL-20 have been shown to have regulatory properties and are an exciting and newly discovered cell type that have roles in various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

The role of B10 cells in transplantation tolerance has yet to be uncovered. Our research is aimed at elucidating the role these cells play in acceptance of transplanted tissues and investigating ways to use these cells as therapeutics to promote long term graft survival.