Amelia Heslington is a Research Assistant at the University of Oxford. Here she discusses her experience and aspirations for the future of her research.
What is your research background?
Last summer I received my Biomedical Sciences Master’s from the University of York and have recently joined the Cartography team as a Research Assistant, working under Professor Paul Klenerman and Dr Nicholas Provine, on Infectious Diseases and Vaccine workstreams. As an immunology student I have a great interest in translational medicine, in particular the regulation of the immune system in the context of human disease. Whilst at University, my masters project investigated haematopoietic trajectories of bone marrow immune cell development, based on the expression of secretome genes. Throughout my studies I gained experience using functional and gene expression analyses, including bone marrow sample harvesting and processing, and have extensively utilised scRNA-seq datasets.
What are you researching now?
My role focuses mainly on the Vaccines and Infectious diseases workstreams of the Cartography project, with each having their own tissue- and disease-specific questions related to the overall aims of Cartography. Infectious diseases aims to understand inflammatory disease in the liver, particularly chronic Hepatitis B infection and PSC. Vaccines aims to understand cellular biomarkers in response to the Janssen covid vaccine. To do this, I am involved in all experimental aspects of scRNA-seq, sample preparation and processing, experimental design and library preparation.
What do you hope to get out of this fellowship?
I decided to take on the role of research assistant to not only develop my skillset within the lab, but to broaden my immunology knowledge and be able to contribute towards a research project focused on improving patient’s lives. I believe that my work and contributions towards the Cartography project will prepare me for a career within the immunological field as I hope to pursue a PhD in the near future and to remain in academia.
What are your aspirations for the future of this research?
There is a great need to understand the biological pathways involved in IMIDs, and the cellular map of genes and proteins that this project will contribute towards will help advance our understanding of disease mechanisms, accelerate the development of new therapies and enable treatment of patients with the most appropriate medications.