CMM Seminar Series | Dr Joanne Konkel, Manchester University
Dr Joanne Konkel, Manchester University
C42, Biomedical Sciences Building (with hybrid option to join virtually)
Talk Title: Delineating mechanisms of immune cell tailoring at the oral barrier.
Abstract: Maintaining immune homeostasis at barriers sites is a considerable challenge. These sites, such as the oral mucosa, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, skin, and lung, are the front line between the external world and the internal body. Not only must each barrier perform its physiological function, but it must do this whilst simultaneously controlling the commensal organisms that live at these sites and effectively responding to environmental insults and pathogen challenge. The immune system ensures barrier integrity in the face of these challenges and is carefully tailored to each barrier creating highly specialized immuno-surveillance networks that safeguard these sites. My group is interested in the oral barriers of the mouth, in particular the gingiva, a key oral barrier and tooth supporting structure. Loss of effective immune control at the gingiva results in the development of Periodontitis, the most common chronic inflammatory condition in humans. Importantly, this prevalent oral inflammatory disease poses a threat to overall systemic health as it has been linked to the exacerbation of a plethora of other inflammatory conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, delineating the local signals tailoring immune cell development and function at the gingiva would not only promote the development of better therapies for periodontitis, but would also have implications for the treatment of other inflammatory conditions. I will present some of our work detailing the local training of immune cells within the gingiva, highlighting novel cues that modulate and train gingiva immune responsiveness.
After receiving my BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol, I moved to the University of Edinburgh to undertake a Wellcome Trust funded PhD. Performing these studies in the laboratory of Prof. Stephen Anderton, I became interested in understanding how T cells perceive and respond to their environment and differentiate accordingly. After completing my PhD in 2009 I moved to National Institutes of Health in the USA to undertake my post-doctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Wanjun Chen in the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research. It was here that I developed my interest in mucosal immunology and the important mucosal cytokine TGFβ, exploring the development of both conventional T cells and, less well-studied, unconventional T cells residing at barrier sites. These studies led me to begin to start my own group examining the immune cell networks present at barrier sites, with a particular emphasis on the oral mucosa, and how the unique and conventional immune cells present at barrier sites perceive and are locally conditioned by the tissue microenvironment. Recently I was award a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship to support my ongoing studies.
Institutional Profile: Dr Joanne Konkel | The University of Manchester
A 'Tea with the Speaker' will follow this seminar, where Pathway 2/PGR staff and students are warmly encouraged to join in an informal discussion with the speaker following their talk.
Host: Dr Anu Goenka