Birmingham professor wins grant for Chinese collaboration

Professor Graham Anderson

Professor Graham Anderson has been awarded a Royal Society International Exchange grant to initiate collaborative research with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Professor Graham Anderson in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy has been awarded a Royal Society International Exchange grant to initiate collaborative research with Professor Mingzhao Zhu at the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.

The project, titled ‘Mechanisms Controlling Cellular Migration During T-cell Development’, runs until March 2020 and provides support for reciprocal visits, allowing Anderson and Zhu lab members access to training in new experimental systems to study T-cell development and migration.

In the immune system, T-cells are key players as they fight infection and cancer. As the absence of T-cells is life-threatening, it is important to understand how these cells develop and function so medical treatments for diseases where T-cells are either absent or impaired can be improved. The only place where T-cells develop is in an organ called the thymus. In order for T-cells to be made here, stem cells have to migrate there from the bone marrow, develop in the thymus for up to 4 weeks, and then exit to circulate around the body. This final stage of thymus exit is extremely important as it is enables T-cells to circulate around the body and monitor for infection and disease. However, control of this key stage is very poorly understood, and few regulators are known.

Both Professor Anderson's and Professor Zhu's labs have developed new systems to examine this important step in T-cell development. By combining and sharing specific expertise in our laboratories, we will be in an exciting position to examine how new T-cells leave the thymus and enter other body tissues. Ultimately, by understanding how T-cell leave the thymus, they hope to apply this knowledge to improving immune system for the treatment of human diseases including immunodeficiency and autoimmunity.

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