Professor Turner graduated in Medical Microbiology from Newcastle University, in 1998. After deciding to specialise in parasitology, he attained an MSc in Molecular Parasitology & Vector Biology from Manchester University in 1999 and a PhD in Parasite Immunology from Nottingham University in 2004. During his PhD, he defined human cellular immune responses associated with resistance and susceptibility to gut nematodes and the influence of nematode spill-over responses modulating anti-bacterial inflammation. From 2003-2007 he was a member of Professor Mark Taylor’s research group at LSTM that demonstrated drug targeting of Wolbachia as a curative treatment for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis via clinical studies conducted in Cameroon and Ghana. In related lab studies, he defined the molecular basis for Wolbachia-mediated inflammation. In 2007 he moved to The Centre for Immunology and Infection at York University and gained a Wellcome Trust Departmental Fellowship in 2009 to investigate the host-parasite interactions of experimental schistosome transmission. He was appointed Lecturer in Parasitology within the Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology Group in September 2010, Senior Lecturer in May 2014 and Reader in Infection Biology within Tropical Disease Biology Department in May 2019 and Professor of Infection Biology in December 2022.
Translational Research in helminth Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) drugs and diagnostics
My lab supports drug discovery and development programmes for novel curative drugs and diagnostics to eliminate human filariasis and treat veterinary filarial infections. We have expertise in taking lead therapies into clinical trials to test curative efficacy against the filarial NTDs, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis. Two new anti-Wolbachia clinical candidates are the macrolide derivative, ABBV-4083 (phase II, in partnership with AbbVie and Drugs for neglected Diseases initiative) and the azaquinazoline, AWZ1066 (entering phase I, in partnership with Eisai Inc and University of Liverpool). A related focus of the lab is to translate basic discoveries of the molecular and cellular pathways dictating pathology induced by tissue helminths into plausible adjunctive therapeutics.
Immunopathology of helminth NTDs
My lab researches the spectrum of immunological responses that dictate major outcomes of human parasitism by tissue-dwelling helminth NTDs: limited, short term parasitism, chronic parasitism without overt disease and parasitism invoking severe inflammatory morbidity. Understanding the cellular and molecular interface between the human immune system and helminth parasites is key to the rational design of novel drugs, immunotherapies and vaccines enabling more effective and safer treatments for both infection and inflammation-related morbidity. My group are applying research models of helminth NTDs considered priority global health problems (namely, filariasis and schistosomiasis), as well as in depth immune-epidemiological surveys of parasitized human populations, to determine cellular and molecular mechanisms of host immunopathology at tissue sites of parasitological assault.
Filariasis preclinical research and the 3Rs
An important output of the lab is the assessment and validation of rodent infection models and culture systems that can reduce or replace the reliance on primates, cats or dogs in filariasis R&D. Many of these have been adopted in both internal and external partnerships to test therapeutics/diagnostics and apply pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) studies of novel anti-filarial and anthelmintic drugs.
Most recently, the lab has been supporting cross-campus LSTM / University of Liverpool efforts to establish a COVID-19 biosafety level 3 in vitro / in vivo preclinical screening platform in order to evaluate novel therapeutic strategies.
LIFE236 Key Skills in Tropical Medicine (BSc Hons)
LIFE361 Human Parasitology (BSc Hons)
TROP936 Research Methods in Tropical Disease Biology (MSc)
TROP939 Tropical Disease Biology (MSc)
TROP719 Epidemiology & Control of Tropical Diseases
TROP739 Immunology of Parasitic Infections (MSc)
MRC DTP MRes Introduction to Global Health Translational Medicine Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Diploma in Tropical Nursing Project Supervisor
LIFE363 (BSc Hons)
Joe is a member of the British Society for Immunology Member British Society for Parasitology