I have always found pathogenic microbes to be fascinating, it’s intriguing that organisms that are too small to see are capable of having such a large impact on our lives. So I decided to study and research into microbial-host interactions. A better understanding of these interactions could lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets. 

I studied at the University of Liverpool for my undergraduate and master’s degrees, with both research projects focusing upon the molecular and genetic aspects of Staphylococcus aureus survival upon the skin. I was also fortunate enough to undertake a BBSRC funded summer research placement at the University of Manchester between the second and third year of my undergraduate. This time I was researching into the role of gd T-cells in periodontitis. All this research experience confirmed that a PhD was the right choice for me, as it gave me the chance to discover something new.

Having worked in both bacteriology and immunology I thought that it was time to give virology a try! So, I applied for my current research project which employs the use of advanced microscopy techniques such as the Titan Krios to better understand how Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) exits human cells. A better understanding of viral egress will potentially help us to identify novel antiviral targets against KSHV, and may have pan-herpesvirus activity. To date, the project has been as interesting as I thought it would be, and my research group and supervisors have been really welcoming and friendly. A highlight so far has to be the first time that I visualised a viral capsid within the cellular nucleus using an electron microscope.

The MRC DiMeN DTP was an appealing choice as it provides such a great opportunity to collaborate between different universities, and also to collaborate between different fields and sub-disciplines. This opens up the opportunity to gain experience and advice from four universities worth of high-tech equipment and expertise. 

PhD title: Understanding the effects of the egress restriction factor Dock5 in Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus

Supervisors: Dr Juan Fontana (University of Leeds), Prof Adrian Whitehouse (University of Leeds) and Dr Paolo Actis (University of Leeds)