I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Brandeis University in Massachusetts where I wrote my senior thesis in the lab of Nobel laureate Professor Jeffrey C. Hall. My work focused on understanding the role of two circadian genes, period and timeless, in mutant strains of Drosophila melanogaster. Upon graduation, I took a research technician post at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York where my fascination with immunology and host responses to infectious diseases began to take shape. I continued my research training at Einstein obtaining a Masters in Science and a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology funded by a NIH predoctoral training grant; writing a dissertation which examined immune responses to the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans in HIV-infected cohorts (in the laboratory of Professor Liise-anne Pirofski).This body of work which involved both human subjects and mouse models demonstrated the importance of IgM antibodies and innate immune mediators in anti-cryptococcal responses.
Keen to utilise my knowledge and laboratory skills on another pathogen, I did my first postdoctoral post in a malaria lab where I evaluated host and parasite responses in the setting of HIV-malaria co-infections. This project which was funded my an internal Global Health Center pilot grant was done in Rwanda where I spent four months doing field work. The unpredictable nature of field work appealed to me and I continued my postdoctoral training in Liverpool joining the Tropical School in 2012; first in the Department of Vector Biology and then the Department of Parasitology. My time at LSTM took me to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, giving me invaluable experience in running and coordinating complex studies.
I joined the University of Liverpool in 2018 in the Department of Clinical Infection, Microbiology and Immunology in the Institute of Infection and Global Health (now the Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences (IVES)) working with Professor Neil French, Dr Lance Turtle and Dr Thomas Blanchard on an Innovate-UK funded project to develop a novel Zika vaccine, which we hope to test in phase I clinical trial. I was awarded a Tenure Track Fellowship in May 2020 which will build on my flavivirus vaccine work and incorporate in vivo animal models using containment-level 3 viruses.