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Oxford Transplant Centre, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7LE

Old Road Campus Research Building (off Roosevelt Drive), Churchill Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7DQ

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) Blood Donor Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, OX3 9BQ

DPhil start date

October 2018

Project title                         

Immunomodulation of donor livers during normothermic machine perfusion (NMP) utilising novel cellular therapies.


Professor Peter Friend and Professor Paul Fairchild

Fungai Dengu

MBChB BMedSci (Hons) MRCS(Ed)

DPhil student and Clinical Research Fellow in Transplant Surgery

I am a General Surgery Registrar in Oxford currently undertaking a period as a Clinical Research Fellow working towards a DPhil. My undergraduate medical training was at the University of Edinburgh, where I also completed an intercalated BMedSci (Hons) degree (Neurosciences) and my research was focused on the neurocircuitry of learning and memory. After my Foundation training in Edinburgh, I went on to complete my Core Surgical Training in London at Kings College Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital before being appointed as a Specialist Registrar on the Oxford (Thames Valley) Higher Surgical Training (HST) programme. I have a keen clinical interest in multi-organ transplant surgery and complex vascular access surgery as well as applications of novel technology in access and transplant surgery. I am a surgical tutor for undergraduates at the University of Oxford and a member of the Oxford Global Surgery Group with a particular interest in surgical system strengthening and surgical innovation in LMICs.

My research

I am currently a first year DPhil student within the transplant organ perfusion research group headed by Professor Peter Friend. My research focuses on exploring the use of normothermic machine perfusion (NMP) technology as a platform for organ immunomodulation and reconditioning. With particular emphasis on the potential of delivering novel cell therapies during NMP.

Liver disease is only major cause of mortality that is still rising in the UK and was responsible for 26,265 deaths between 2015-2017. Liver transplantation is the only effective treatment for end-stage liver disease and therefore the need for more suitable organ donor organs is rising. One of the ways this is being addressed is the use of NMP, where more marginal or high-risk organs are being assessed to ensure good function prior to implantation. With the advent of NMP technology that also permits longer preservation times, we have a unique opportunity to intervene or ‘treat’ organs during this period. Characterising and understanding the immunological environment within donor organs during NMP could provide valuable insights into potential application of immune and cellular therapies for reconditioning and immunomodulation of these organs during preservation. I am collaborating with Professor Paul Fairchild of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, who is a pioneer in the development of induced pluripotent stem cell derived dendritic cell therapy.