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Infection and Immunology

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More about this group

The Infection and Immunology programme applies contemporary molecular techniques, including structural and functional genomics, to study fundamental mechanisms of microbial and eukaryotic cell-cell interactions, differentiation, and community development.

Research groups

The Oral Microbiology group, led by Professor Howard Jenkinson, focuses on defining mechanisms by which oral micro-organisms colonize surfaces, form communities (biofilms), invade tissues, and establish systemic infections such as bacterial endocarditis. These studies have broad implications in that oral microbiology research is addressing not just important issues in dentistry but also within the context of general microbiology in health and disease.

The Inflammation and Immunology group, led by Dr Jim Middleton, studies how leukocytes and stem cells migrate and accumulate in inflamed tissues. The research is relevant to inflammatory diseases such as periodontitis, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis. In addition, there are studies on keratinocyte cell biology in terms of differentiation, proliferation and host immune responses. A range of malignant oral keratinocyte and stem cell lines developed by the group are widely used by the scientific community.

Related links

Further information

  • Research funded by the Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NIDCR) Bethesda USA, Arthritis Research Campaign, MRC, BBSRC
  • Enquiries about MSc or PhD studies within the Infection and Immunology programme should be addressed to Professor Jenkinson

Publication highlights

  • Whittall C, Kehoe O, King S, Rot A, Patterson A, Middleton J. 2013. A chemokine self-presentation mechanism involving formation of endothelial surface microstructures. J Immunol 190: 1725-36.
  • Cogoni V, Morgan-Smith A, Fenno JC, Jenkinson HF, Dymock D. 2012. Treponema denticola chymotrypsin-like proteinase (CTLP) integrates spirochaetes within oral microbial communities. Microbiology 158: 759-70.
  • Smith H, Whittall C, Weksler B, Middleton J. 2012. Chemokines stimulate bidirectional migration of human mesenchymal stem cells across bone marrow endothelial cells. Stem Cells Dev 21: 476-86.
  • Maddocks SE, Wright CJ, Nobbs AH, Brittan JL, Franklin L, Stromberg N, Kadioglu A, Jepson MA, Jenkinson HF. 2011. Streptococcus pyogenes antigen I/II-family polypeptide AspA shows differential ligand-binding properties and mediates biofilm formation. Mol Microbiol 81: 1034-49.
  • Schmutz C, Cartwright A, Williams H, Haworth O, Williams JH, Filer A, Salmon M, Buckley CD, Middleton J. 2010. Monocytes/macrophages express chemokine receptor CCR9 in rheumatoid arthritis and CCL25 stimulates their differentiation. Arthritis Res Ther 12: R161.
  • Keane C, Petersen H, Reynolds K, Newman DK, Cox D, Jenkinson HF, Newman PJ, Kerrigan SW. 2010. Mechanism of outside-in αIIbβ3-mediated activation of human platelets by the colonizing bacterium Streptococcus gordonii. Arterioscler Thromb Vas Biol 30:2408-15.
  • Cirillo N, Lanza, Prime SS. 2010. Induction of hyper-adhesion attenuates autoimmune-induced keratinocyte cell-cell detachment and processing of adhesion molecules via mechanisms that involve PKC. Exp Cell Res 316: 580-92.
  • Keane C, Tilley D, Cunningham A, Smolenski A, Kadioglu A, Cox D, Jenkinson HF, Kerrigan SW. 2010. Invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae trigger platelet activation via Toll-like receptor 2. J Thromb Haemost 8: 2757-65.
  • Nobbs AH, Vickerman MM, Jenkinson HF. 2010. Heterologous expression of Candida albicans cell wall-associated adhesins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae reveals differential specificities in adherence and biofilm formation and in binding oral Streptococcus gordonii. Eukaryot Cell 10: 1622-34.
  • Pruenster M, Mudde L, Bombosu P, Dimitrova A, Zsak M, Middleton J, Richmond A, Graham GJ, Segerer S, Nibbs RJ, Rot A. 2009. The Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines transports chemokines and supports their promigratory activity. Nat Immunol 10:101-8.


Staff within the IAI Programme provide teaching and research project supervision within a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Didactic teaching is provided for Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) units including Oral Biology, Oral Medicine and Foundation Elements, whilst clinical training is offered as part of the Specialist Registrar Training Programme in Oral Medicine. Staff also contribute online literature projects within the Oral Health Research unit.

Undergraduate laboratory research projects are offered for dental students each summer, and for BSc students undertaking degree programmes in Biochemistry, Microbiology, Medical Microbiology, and Pathology and Microbiology each winter. Vacation studentships sponsored by the Society for General Microbiology are also supervised within the Oral Microbiology laboratories.

Full and part-time projects leading to MSc and PhD degrees by research are offered. Staff supervise students undertaking research projects for postgraduate professional degree programmes such as the MSc in Dental Implantology and DDS in Orthodontics. There are also MSc opportunities as part of the Infection and Immunity theme. For further details regarding postgraduate opportunities, please refer to the Postgraduate Prospectus.