Senior Postdoctoral Scientist
I have worked as a post-doc with Hal Drakesmith since 2008. My work focuses on hepcidin, the hormone that controls how much iron is taken up from the diet and how iron is distributed within the body.
I am firstly interested in how hepcidin is regulated under different physiological circumstances (including infections, iron deficiency and anaemia, and during early childhood), and secondly in how hepcidin-mediated changes in iron status impact upon infections and immunity.
Both mammalian hosts and the pathogens that infect them require iron. A lack of iron can lead to anaemia, yet supplying iron to correct this may exacerbate risk of infections such as malaria. Understanding the interplay between iron handling, anaemia and infections is therefore important, and hepcidin plays a central role.
To study the hepcidin-iron axis, we carry out experiments using in vitro and murine models besides performing studies in humans, notably through our collaboration with the MRC Gambia Unit.
Over recent years, we have investigated the behaviour of hepcidin during several human infections (such as typhoid, HIV-1, and malaria) and evaluated what hepcidin can tell us about the iron status of children in low-income countries. We have developed a mouse model in which hepcidin deletion can be induced, which is useful for studying the role of hepcidin in infections.
We have also helped translate our laboratory experience of hepcidin measurement to the Clinical Biochemistry department in the John Radcliffe Hospital.
I previously studied Biochemistry in Oxford, before carrying out my DPhil in the MRC Human Immunology Unit (HIU), supervised by Astrid Iversen and Andrew McMichael. My project evaluated whether APOBEC3 anti-HIV restriction factors, which are capable of extensively editing viral genomes, are likely to contribute to HIV-1 diversification.
Beyond our specific research group, I also perform other roles:
- I run the monthly Unit-wide HIU Immunology Breakfast journal club series that facilitates discussion of recent high profile developments in immunology.
- I manage and maintain the QuantStudio7 qRT-PCR instrumentation for the MRC HIU. I am Co-Chair of the WIMM Post-Doc Association, which provides support for post-docs as they progress in their careers and aims to promote a friendly collaborative ethos within the WIMM.
- I provide tutorials in Immunology to Oxford 3rd year Biochemistry students.
TB or not TB? Soft pity opens the iron gates
Armitage AE. and Drakesmith H., (2021), Blood, 138, 1285 - 1287
Analysis of Iron and Iron-Interacting Protein Dynamics During T-Cell Activation
Teh MR. et al, (2021), Frontiers in Immunology, 12
The Role of Nutrition in COVID-19 Susceptibility and Severity of Disease: A Systematic Review.
James PT. et al, (2021), J Nutr
Hepcidin-Mediated Hypoferremia Disrupts Immune Responses to Vaccination and Infection.
Frost JN. et al, (2021), Med (N Y), 2, 164 - 179.e12
Could nutrition modulate COVID-19 susceptibility and severity of disease? A systematic review
James P. et al, (2020)