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Kyla Dooley is an Oxford-Janssen Fellow working in the Nuffield Department of Medicine. Here she discusses her experience and aspirations for the future of her research.

Kyla Dooley

What is your research background?

I completed a 3 year Master’s degree by dissertation at the University of the Free State in South Africa. I specialised in Forensic Genetics and my research focused on the use of Y-STRs in the investigation of sexual assault cases in South Africa. Despite having a degree in a different scientific field, it was my love of molecular biology and research – and the desire to do both abroad – that lead me to applying to be a part of Professor Holm Uhlig’s group. I am currently working as a research assistant with Professor Holm Uhlig in the Translational Gastroenterology Unit in Nuffield Department of Medicine.

What are you Researching now?

I am now a Research Assistant in Professor Holm Uhlig’s lab, working specifically on the Cartography project. The aim of this project is to create a cellular, molecular and genetic roadmap for immune mediated inflammatory disorders across organ systems, looking specifically at gastroenterology, dermatology, and rheumatology. The goal is to construct a cross-disease and cross-tissue cell atlas of diseased tissue prioritizing disorders and patient subgroups with need to escalate current therapies. As the research assistant, my job is to coordinate and assist with the research happening across these three workstreams. However, I am primarily based in the gastroenterology department so I am more involved with the sample collection and processing for this workstream, with a focus on Crohn’s and Coeliac disease.

What has your experience of this fellowship been like?

I only started in my position at the University of Oxford in April 2021, and as such, I have only been a part of this fellowship for such a short period of time. I’ve only had the opportunity to join one workshop so far. However, that one workshop gave me valuable insight into how I could fully embrace this opportunity of working on a project with such strong links to industry.

What are your Aspirations for future of this research?

Immune mediated inflammatory disorders affect so many individuals, and despite the success of many medicines, there is a lack of understanding of disease biology and the pathways targeted by them. I hope is that this research, and my role in it, can help answer some of these questions and gain a better understanding of how and why these diseases affect people the way that they do and thereby contribute to more targeted therapies. This research project is also an excellent opportunity for collaboration between academia and industry, and so I hope that I will have the chance to meet and work with many scientists and clinicians from both sectors.