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Liliana is a Clinical Research Fellow in the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskelatal Sciences. She discusses her research, and motivations for working with industry.

What is your research background?

Liliana Cifuentes

After finishing my medical studies at El Bosque University in Bogota (Colombia) I moved to the Division of Allergy and Immunology (Charite, Berlin), where I analyzed the neuro-immune interaction in allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema. Later, I moved to the department of Dermatology and Allergy (TUM, Munich) where I pursued a dual clinical-academic career path. After finishing my specialization in Dermatology and Allergy in Germany, I moved to Imperial College where I focused on improvement of in-vitro tests in the diagnosis of allergies and the identification of biomarkers during allergen immunotherapy. After being awarded an Oxford-Celgene Fellowship, I moved to NDORMS at the University of Oxford. 

What are you researching now?

The project I currently work on aims to evaluate distribution and effects of PKC-θ and anti-PD-1 antibodies in conventional and regulatory T cells in the process of antigen presentation in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis arthritis, atopic eczema and a model of allergy with house dust mite. The project at NDORMS involves an interdisciplinary team including dermatologists, rheumatologists, immunologists and the industry. The program includes clinical research, basic research and managerial roles.

What has your experience of this Fellowship been like?

Working with Celgene as a research fellow has exposed me to a broad range of expertise in industry and has provided valuable access to a scientific network. I have received wonderful scientific and professional advice from all my three supervisors at the Oxford (Prof. Michael Dustin, Prof. Peter Taylor and Prof. Graham Ogg). My supervisors from Celgene, Roli Khattri and Leon Carayannopoulos have also been fantastic active listeners, ready to help working through specific problems, and always pointing me towards useful resources. Working simultaneously in different fields is challenging but rewarding, and has helped broaden my capabilities. Additionally, I have enjoyed being involved in outreach activities with the public.

Working with Celgene as a research fellow has exposed me to a broad range of expertise in industry and has provided valuable access to a scientific network. 

Why do you think it is important for researchers to engage with industry?

As a clinical research fellow in translational biology, I am particularly interested in the development of skills that bring together industry leaders with academia to forge efficient partnerships for research and the translation to patient outcomes and care-systems. The future success of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases drug development is reliant upon the close collaboration between parties that are uncovering new compounds for study.

What are your aspirations for the future of your research?

I hope that the skills I have developed from working in different but related areas will allow me to create a unique research line establishing new protocols of therapies for immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. Coming originally from a country such as Colombia, it is important for me not only to perform research at excellent standards, but also to enhance patient access and best use of optimal medical treatment. To this end, I am eager to develop my understanding of how innovation in technologies and business can be applied to health care.