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Katarzyna Bera


ACF (ST3) / Academic Clinical Fellow

  • Graduate Entry Medical and Clinical Tutor, and Non-stipendiary Lecturer at St Anne’s College

My research focuses on understanding the role of brain death and neuroimmunology in organ donation after brain death (DBD).

During my DPhil, funded by the Wellcome Trust OXION Initiative, I have been interested in understanding how autoantibodies generated in patients with e.g. ovarian tumours can cause neurological symptoms and damage the brain. My interest in general and transplant surgery made me then look in the opposite direction across the blood brain barrier: how can a catastrophic brain injury impact on organs outside of the central nervous system, and does the aftermath of this initial cerebral injury carry any significance after organ procurement?

The waiting list for patients with end stage renal failure by far exceeds the available organ pool – despite the fact that we have more live kidney donors than ever before. Donation after brain death thus remains an important source of organs. At the moment I am characterising how the duration of brain death changes the molecular serum profile of deceased donors before organ procurement. If we can begin to understand whether and how a devastating brain injury can impact a transplanted kidney’s function, fate and survival, we might be able to identify novel pathological pathways and treatment opportunities to improve the long-term outcomes of the transplant.

In addition to my research in the Transplant Centre, I am a surgical trainee interested in General and Transplant Surgery and am currently rotating through the hospitals in the Health Education Thames Valley deanery. Outside of work, I am involved in teaching medical students at Oxford medical school and at St Anne’s College. In my (limited) spare time, I can be found down at the river sculling or running through Oxfordshire’s countryside.