- Comparative immunology focused on cartilaginous fish
- Development of new technologies/therapies to understand, diagnose, and treat human and animal disease
My work is driven by a desire to understand how the components of the immune system emerged and have since evolved. To do this we use a comparative approach, examining a specific immune molecule or pathway in different animal species and comparing them to look for changes or shared properties. Essential to this are our studies on the immune response of sharks and their close relatives the skates, rays, and chimera (all cartilaginous fishes); this group are especially important as they are the most ancient species to have a ‘human-like’ adaptive immune system (with polymorphic/polygenic MHC molecules and diverse repertoires of immunoglobulins and T cell receptors generated by somatic recombination). We have previously shown sharks can generate robust, target-specific antibody responses following immunization and have moved on to study the molecules involved in development, maintenance, and regulation of this response. Any novel immune molecules we find during our studies are assessed for their utility as next-generation agents for the diagnosis and/or treatment of human and animal disease.