The research team, past and present
The Wegener’s Trust is currently funding Miss Sang-Mi Kim as a PhD student under the supervision of Dr Susan John and Professor David D’Cruz to follow up the work done by Yuan, delving deeper into the biology of T cells.
Dr Alina Casian is a Clinical Research Fellow funded by the St Thomas’ Wegener’s Trust for two years with a view to developing a clinical trial to determine if patients with Wegener’s granulomatosis would benefit from taking the drug hydroxychloroquine.
Dr Yuan Zhao was funded as a PhD student by the St Thomas’ Wegener’s Trust for three years. Under the supervision of Jo Spencer and David D’Cruz, she made huge inroads into our understanding of the cell biology of GPA. She published two research papers on Wegener’s granulomatosis (see what we’ve found out so far) and is now studying as a post-doctoral researcher investigating the role of the gut in human B cell development.
Dr Verena Hehle was funded by the Wegener’s Trust as a postdoctoral researcher for two years. In that time Verena used key signatures in antibody genes to identify how some genes are prevented from joining the normal antibody repertoire as B cells develop (see what we’ve found out so far). This is important because random processes are involved in generating antibodies and it is necessary to screen and remove potentially dangerous variants. This successful period of research supported Verena’s career progression and she is continuing to research antibodies at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
Clinical Research Fellow Dr Lutalo was funded by the St Thomas’ Wegener’s Trust for two years. During that time she established a weekly biologics clinic to facilitate the treatment of patients with GPA and SLE with rituximab. Following a detailed treatment protocol, patients received rituximab and were followed at regular intervals to assess clinical response and to collect blood samples to analyse changes in B and T cell subsets. This followed disturbances in T cell subsets identified by Yuan in earlier studies over time in single patients. The data will be submitted for publication and forms a submission to the University of London for a PhD. Pamela is now back in clinic and will use her lab experience to develop her career as a clinical academic.