The role that NF-kB signalling plays in the development and function of T cells has been much studied, but remains poorly understood. Our work reveals that the T cell receptor is not the dominant receptor triggering NF-kB signalling during development of T cells, contrary to accepted dogma, but is rather TNF. We also reveal that TNF regulates survival and development of T cells by both NF-kB dependent and independent mechanisms and identify a new survival pathway in T cells, dependent on RIPK1.
I had the good fortune to undertake a PhD with Prof Don Mason at the former Medical Research Council’s Cellular Immunology Unit, at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford University. We studied the role and mechanisms of regulatory T cells in the control of autoimmunity in rats. I then moved to the MRCs National Institute for Medical Research where I worked first as a post-doc with Dr Rose Zamoyska in the Division of Molecular Immunology, and then started my independent research group as a Programme Leader in the Division of Immune Cell Biology. 10 years at NIMR allowed me to establish a research programme investigating the mechanisms of T cell homeostasis, generating novel genetic models of TCR and cytokine signalling, employing mathematical approaches to gain systems level understanding and identifying novel roles for inflammatory signalling for T cell maturation. In 2013, I relocated the lab to the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation at the Royal Free Hospital Campus of University College London, where I am investigating the role of TNFSFR signalling and NF-kappaB transcription factors in the maturation and function of T cells in health and disease.