Dr Clive McKimmie
I am an Associate Professor who leads the virus host interactions team at the University of Leeds. We have a particular interest in studying host responses to viruses spread by mosquitoes, known as arboviruses. These viruses represent an important class of emerging infections that pose an increasing threat to human and animal health. We are an enthusiastic, dedicated team of researchers who aim to better understand the mechanisms by which these viruses causes disease and how our immune system defends us against them. We are an inclusive, interdisciplinary team who value collaboration and would welcome any interest or queries that you might have in our work.
Ailish McCafferty - PhD student
During a summer research internship in Glasgow under the supervision of Marieke, my interest in the host immune response to arboviruses was first sparked. After completing my BSc in Immunology at the University of Glasgow, I moved to Leeds to join VHIT to undertake my PhD as part of the MRC DiMeN DTP. I am studying the differences in susceptibility to arboviral infection in patients with inflammatory skin diseases, psoriasis and eczema, and trying to understand the immune mechanisms behind this. Outside of the lab, I spend far too much time playing Animal Crossing and trying to hit my Goodreads reading challenge!
Yonca Keşkek Türk - PhD student
After completing my BSc in Veterinary Medicine, Ankara University, I decided that the best route for me was joining the virology world. Thanks to my fellowship, I have had a chance to live in the UK and become a member of the VHIT, with the valuable supervision of Clive. I am studying host responses that define the severity of neurotropic arbovirus infection, specifically by Toscana virus (TOSV), which is spread by sandflies. We are defining what role sand fly saliva has on modulating host susceptibility to infection with TOSV. I am literally a cat lover and outside of the lab, I am exploring my new home!
Zahra Alfaheeda - PhD student
Project title; Enhancing delivery and efficacy on oncolytic viruses to hepatocellular carcinoma.
The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the UK has increased more than four-fold since 1990, and worldwide HCC is the second biggest cause of cancer-specific mortality. Very few patients achieve long-term survival, due to late diagnosis and a lack of effective therapies. Our published and ongoing work indicates that oncolytic reovirus, an immunotherapeutic wild-type virus, induces anti-HCC immune responses and significantly reduces tumour growth rate. Strategies that enhance localisation and infection of virus into tumour, with associated immune cell tumour infiltration and anti-tumour effects are urgently required. This project will determine whether mosquito-derived salivary factors can enhance localisation of oncolytic virus to tumours.
Associate members (VHIT+)
Dr Marieke Pingen
My main research interest is viral transmission and dissemination. After finishing my PhD on transmission and evolution of drug resistant HIV, I moved to the University of Glasgow to explore the role of the mammalian immune system on arboviral transmission and dissemination with Clive. Together we moved to the University of Leeds. I am currently focussing on the origin of viraemia, which is essential for viral transmission. In addition to science, I like films, hiking, whisky, baking and board games,
After spending my final year undergraduate project and 12 week BBSRC mini project with VHIT. I returned in 2015 to start my BBSRC funded PhD project to investigate the early innate immune events of arbovirus infection at the inoculation site - a better understanding of which, could help in the development of new therapeutic strategies for these viruses! Having finished my PhD in 2019, I moved to the MRC Centre for Virus Research to study tick borne arboviruses. Coffee addict, leading expert in complaining and co-convenor of the VHIT Nicolas Cage fanclub!
I undertook a PhD that focused on how mosquito saliva enhances the infection of mosquito-borne viruses. This work helped identify those factors in mosquito saliva that modulate host susceptibility to infection with virus. I am now work at the MRC Centre for Virus Research studying Wolbachia and arbovirus transmission. Apart from loving science I am a huge bookworm with a special love for anything ever written by J.R.R Tolkien as well as being addicted to World of Warcraft from time to time.
UG and MSci students past and present
Emily undertook her final year undergraduate laboratory project with VHIT. Her project involved developing a novel ex vivo model of arbovirus infection using whole skin explants. This work is soon to be published as part Daniella Lefteri's paper. Emily is now studying for medicine.
Andrew joined VHIT as an intercalating medical student in 2018. He investigated how exposure to environmental ultraviolet light, similar to that from the sun, modulates mammalian host susceptibility to arbovirus infection. Andrew discovered some really interesting differences in skin exposed to UV that we hope to publish soon.
During my Undergraduate Immunology degree in Glasgow, I completed my Senior Honours Research Project in Clive’s lab. We investigated possible therapeutic options against arbovirus infection, by boosting early immune responses to decrease viral spread. This was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun working with Clive and Marieke! I thoroughly enjoyed analysing immune responses to viral infections, and so hope to do PhD in a similar area of research. To gain further lab experience and learn more about working with infectious diseases, I began working as a research technician in Glasgow’s Centre for Molecular Parasitology, where I am currently studying the biology of the human pathogen, Toxoplasma Gondii. Update: Jack has started a PhD at the Francis Crick Institute in London.
Hi there! At the end of my bachelor that takes place in the Netherlands, I wanted to do my internship abroad, so that is one of the reasons that I joined VHIT in Leeds. With the help of Marieke, Clive and Steven, I investigate the effects of different components of a cream on different cell types after virus infection. I have already learned a lot about this project and about doing research in general. Also, I already practiced some techniques such as two different RNA extractions, tissue culture, qPCR and plaque assays. When I joined, I immediately felt very welcome in the team. And as you can see on this website, it is important to have fun whilst doing science! Update: Janne is currently finishing her bachelor programme back in the Netherlands.
During my Undergraduate Medical degree at the University of Glasgow, I completed my Intercalated Degree research project with Clive and Marieke. We investigated the effect of Semliki Forest Virus on dendritic cells - in particular whether the virus is able to infect the DCs themselves and the effect this has on them. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the Virus-Host interactions Team. Having had no previous research experience I found the team very supportive, learnt a lot of new skills and gained an insight into the world of research and academic medicine. Currently I am completing my Medical degree but hope to be involved in academic medicine and research throughout my career.
I did a Masters research project with Clive Mckimmie working on Semliki Forest Virus (SFV), a mosquito-borne arbovirus. We investigated the differences in viral replication rate and innate immune responses of SFV derived from an insect-cell or mammalin-cell derived source. I had never worked with viruses before but through this project I realised how many interesting techniques can be used to investigate how they infect their host. We infected mice, dissected various tissues including the draining lymph node and extracted RNA for qRT-PCR, showing that insect-derived SFV did indeed have a more rapid replication rate than mammalian-derived virus. We also used Flow Cytometry to show that the insect and mammalian-derived virus infected different types of dendritic cells; it was nice to get pretty pictures for my report! The project with Clive really influenced where I am now; I'm currently in the second year of my PhD at Lancaster University where I work on mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria. Wolbachia has shown the ability to inhibit transmission of some arboviruses in mosquitoes, and I am investigating the role of Reactive Oxygen Species in this process. Following my PhD I would like to continue on to do a Post-Doc or transfer into a Biotech company, I'm unsure of which yet but I've learnt a lot of techniques that can be applicable to either career paths.
After finishing my undergraduate degree in molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Crete, I did my masters in Infections and Immunology at the University of Glasgow. That‘s where I had the pleasure of working with the Virus-Host interactions Team in a project about the effect of arboviral infection in dendritic cells. During this time Clive was always helpful and easy to approach and together with Marieke, who was just starting, gave me very good suggestions on how to improve my final graded presentation. Also, Clive was very supportive when I was searching for a PhD, so I would definitely recommend this group to a master student. Now, I am working towards my PhD thesis, about the role of the NF-κB regulator IκBNS in effector T cells, at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany.
I worked in the McKimmie group as part of my Undergraduate Immunology degree at the University of Glasgow, investigating the impact of Semliki Forest Virus infection on dendritic cell function and their migration to draining lymph nodes. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Clive and being part of the McKimmie group for my Senior Honours laboratory project, and learned a range of techniques including flow cytometry and qRT-PCR - techniques which I still use to this day! I graduated with a First Class M.Sci Immunology degree in Summer 2013 and am now pursuing a PhD on the Wellcome Trust PhD training programme at Imperial College London. Keeping with the infection-immunology theme, I am now interested in age-related changes to the immune response in Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection.