The overarching scientific theme of my laboratory is herpesvirus immunobiology. A main aim is then to use the increased understanding gained from these studies to develop herpesviruses as a new vaccine platform to control highly pathogenic emerging zoonotic viruses – both in the human host as well as in the reservoir/spill-over animal species.
My laboratory at Plymouth has grown to its present level of 4 technical scientists and 3 post-graduate level research students, and is supported by a grant income of over £1 million. To further my scientific goals in highly pathogenic microbes, I have a long-term (>10-year) collaboration with the Feldmann Laboratory at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML). I have also been a member of the NIAID Biosurety Program since 2014, and was accepted onto the equivalent Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Select Agent program earlier this year.
To achieve full impact, I believe it is critical that innovation in science is translated into application. I am a strong advocate of outreach for practical application of science. In my local area of Devon, I devote over a month every year to engaging with livestock/equestrian veterinarians and farmers in the field. I am also co-Founder and Director of a spin-out company, The Vaccine Group (TVG) Ltd, which I created to facilitate translational development of my science. I believe in the value of diversity in all aspects of life, but especially within science. I am therefore very proud of the successful completion of my first PhD student in 2017, Dr Shirin Hama Salih, a Kurdish woman in science. She has since returned to her native Iraq, and is working as a scientist at the Kurdish Salahaddin University.