Academy Fellows

Dr Elizabeth Poyner

Dr Elizabeth Poyner Image

Overview: My interest in immunology research started as a medical student, leading to me doing an intercalated master’s degree in Immunobiology at Newcastle University. During this I completed a research project investigating the differentiation of human Th17 cells, and was awarded a programme prize for the degree. Following foundation training, I did an Academic Clinical Fellowship, during which I studied the distribution of skin antigen presenting cells at multiple anatomical sites. I am currently a dermatology speciality trainee in the Northern Deanery. My main research interest is in understanding the pathogenesis of Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma (CTCL).

PhD Title: Defining the malignant T cells and their interactions with antigen presenting cells in the microenvironment of Cutaneous T cell Lymphoma

Brief Summary of PhD Project: CTCL is characterized by a clonal malignant proliferation of CD4+ memory T cells in the skin. Surrounding the malignant cells in the cutaneous microenvironment are a heterogeneous assortment of benign reactive T cells and antigen presenting cells (APCs). The presence of benign reactive T cells has limited the understanding of the lineage and function of the malignant T cell clone and their interactions with APCs in the microenvironment. My research aims to use molecular profiling at single cell level to define the lineage of the malignant T cell clone, characterize the molecular alterations that have developed to allow it to proliferate and survive, and predict the cellular interactions with APCs, ultimately defining the role of APCs in the pathogenesis of CTCL.

Supervisors:

Prof Muzlifah Haniffa (Newcastle University)

Dr Sophie Weatherhead (Newcastle University)

Dr Chris Bacon (Newcastle University)

Progress so far: I have performed optimization experiments to adapt the protocol for processing healthy human skin for single cell sequencing to the smaller research inflammatory skin biopsies that will be used in my project.  I have also analyzed T cell data from single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of healthy human skin, which I will use as a comparison for my CTCL scRNA-seq analysis. I was awarded by the British Association of Dermatologists a travel award to attend the CTCL research group of Dr Guenova, University of Zurich and EORTC Cutaneous Lymphoma Group meeting in September 2018 and a travel bursary to attend Genomics for Dermatology Genetics and Bioinformatics course in November 2018. I presented at the UK Cutaneous Lymphoma Group meeting in May 2018 and at the British Association of Dermatologists Research Techniques Course in November 2018.

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