Prior to joining LSTM I was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department for Molecular Microbiology at Washington University in St Louis, where I researched glycosyltransferases of Leishmania. I graduated with a PhD in Molecular Parasitology from the University of St Andrews, with a thesis entitled 'Investigating the Trypanocidal Activity of Simplified Natural Product-like Analogues and the Characterisation of a Novel Trypanosomatid-Specific Secondary Alternative Oxidase'
My research activities focus on developing novel therapeutics and diagnostics to treat snakebite.
I have implemented antibody display technologies to discover new antibodies for NTDs, which can be used as therapeutics or diagnostic tools. As part of my Directors Catalyst Fund award I have used yeast-based antibody display systems to discover nanobodies and scFv against snake venom toxins and N-protein of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever virus. I have also received training in phage-display library creation and screening from collaborator Prof. John McCafferty (University of Cambridge) and Prof. Andreas Laustsen (Technical University of Denmark) to create custom phage-display libraries from venom-immunised animals. We also use B-cell sorting from venom-immunised animals as a complementary method to discover new antibodies, which forms part of a Jean Clayton Fund award with Dr. Stuart Ainsworth and Dr. Shaun Pennington. Antibodies discovered using these pipelines are expressed as recombinant proteins (as nanobodies, scFv or whole IgG) and evaluated using serological methods, functional activity assays and surface plasmon resonance.
Novel Snakebite Therapeutics
I have lead several large collaborative projects to identify novel therapeutics for snakebite envenoming to improve patient outcomes.
Design and production of virus-like particles as a replacement for venoms used in antivenom manufacture, and serological analysis of the resulting antisera (DFID funded SRPNTS project.
Comparative efficacy testing of the neutralising ability of antivenoms to inform governmental procurement decisions Testing of adenovirus-derived treatments for toxin neutralisation and pharmacokinetics of ADDovenom (EU funded ADDovenom(link is external)(opens in a new tab) project)
Identification of repurposed small molecule inhibitors as treatments for Dispholidus typus envenoming
Scientific lead for developing novel diagnostics for snakebite, and assisted with COVID-19 diagnostics projects at LSTM
Testing of recombinase polymerase amplification and latex agglutination tests for the identification of snake DNA in snakebite patients (RSTMH funded Small Grant)
Development and validation of PCR as a method for retrospective species identification of snake species from bite site swabs (as part of the NIHR funded African Snakebite Research Group)
Collaboration with diagnostics companies to develop rapid diagnostic tests for snakebite
Evaluated novel diagnostics for COVID-19, working with industrial partners and the NHS to generate evidence for product evaluation
I teach on MSc Tropical Disease Biology modules: TROP936 Research Methods in Parasitology and Vector Biology TROP969 Key Topics in Snakebite TROP942 Research Project MSc and BSc dissertation supervisor
Associate Fellow of Advance HE
Directors Catalyst Fund 2022 (PI) 'Establishing an animal-free monoclonal antibody discovery and maturation pipeline to accelerate new therapies and diagnostics tools for NTDs’
Jean Clayton Fund 2022 (Co-I) 'Establishment and validation of an in-house monoclonal antibody (mAb) discovery pipeline'
ERC 'EUVEN' short term scientific mission grant 2022 (PI) 'Training in phage-display antibody libraries'
RSTMH Small Grants 2020 (PI) 'Development of a context-appropriate rapid diagnostic test for snakebite in sub-Saharan Africa’