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Kate Milward


Post-doctoral Research Assistant

Biography

After recently completing a DPhil, investigating the molecular requirements of human regulatory T cell function, I am now working as a post-doctoral researcher, in the Transplantation Research Immunology Group (TRIG), under the supervision of Joanna Hester and Fadi Issa. Currently, I am undertaking research that contributes to the BIO-DrIM (BIOmarker-Driven personalized Immunosuppression) project, a broader project conducted by a multi-national consortium and funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (http://www.biodrim.eu/).

Following transplantation, some patients suffer frequent or severe episodes of graft rejection that are difficult to control with drugs; meanwhile, with the aid of immunosuppressive drugs, others experience few or no symptoms of graft rejection. It is apparent the optimal dose and type of immunosuppressive drugs differs greatly between patients. Some therapies may be inadequate in the former (“high responder”) patients, who appear to have an inherently robust immunological response to transplanted tissue. Conversely, it might be possible to use less aggressive treatment in the latter (“low responder”) transplant recipients, resulting in fewer side-effects for the patient and less expense to the health service. Current in vivo models fail to represent the full spectrum of different responses that are observed in patients.

For this project, we are developing complementary in vivo models of these disparate immunological responses to transplanted organs. Ultimately, we will be using these models to examine the relative efficacy of different treatments for graft rejection in patients with different immunological profiles. We hope that these models will also help to illuminate the role of immunological memory (or immune cell maturation) in susceptibility to graft rejection.  Part of this investigation also involves an exploration of the properties of immune cell populations within adult blood versus umbilical cord blood.