Dr Katelyn Spillane
Katelyn graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2006 with a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in music. She received her PhD in physical chemistry from the University of California Berkeley in 2011. Her PhD was supervised by Professor Richard Mathies in the Department of Chemistry and focused on the ultrafast reaction dynamics of photoactive proteins. In 2011, she moved to the University of Oxford as an NIH postdoctoral fellow in the group of Professor Philipp Kukura in the Department of Chemistry. While at Oxford, she used interferometric scattering microscopy to investigate the motion of individual lipid and protein molecules on the sub-millisecond-time and nanometre-length scales. In 2013, Katelyn took a second postdoctoral position in the group of Dr Pavel Tolar in the Division of Immune Cell Biology at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, which has since become the Francis Crick Institute. While at the Crick, she investigated the role of mechanical forces in B cell antigen endocytosis. Katelyn joined the Department of Physics at King’s as a Lecturer in Experimental Biophysics in January 2018 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2021.
Dr Anna Bajur
Anna completed her undergraduate and postgraduate education at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences where she studied biology with specialisation in animal biology. Anna’s MSc project was focused on developing tools and characterising the role of the protein DIA1 (Deleted in Autism-1) in neurons during their differentiation and was performed under the supervision of Professor Krzysztof Pawlowski and Professor Jacek Jaworski at the IIMCB in Warsaw. Anna continued to pursue her interest in cell differentiation and joined the PhD Programme at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. There she worked in the group of Professor Elisabeth Knust studying the interplay between cell polarity, adhesion, and actomyosin-dependent force generation during epithelial morphogenesis of a fruit fly. Anna showed that stabilisation of an important epithelial protein Crumbs at the cell plasma membrane depends on the link to the actomyosin cortex. This defined Crumbs as a mediator between cell polarity and junctional regulation to orchestrate epithelial remodelling in response to changes in mechanical tension. Fascinated by mechanobiology, Anna decided to continue working on the role of mechanical forces in the regulation of cell physiology in the group of Dr Katelyn Spillane. Here she is using biophysical tools combined with pharmacological and genetic manipulations to understand the molecular underpinnings of how mechanical forces regulate the transition from resting to activated B cells.
Maro received their BSc degree in Biology (Molecular Biology/Biochemistry) from University of Crete (2014). Their bachelor’s thesis was supervised by Professor Kriton Kalantidis and focused on exploring the role of the bromo-domain-containing protein VIRP1 in Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid’s infectivity. Maro then moved to Germany and was awarded an MSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology (2016) from Jacobs University Bremen. Under the supervision of Professor Sebastian Springer, they investigated the endocytosis of MHC Class I with a novel labelling system. In 2016, Maro joined Dr Sergi Padilla-Parra’s group at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford as a research assistant to work on the identification of receptor stoichiometry during HIV-1 entry into cells. They joined the Department of Physics at King’s College London in 2018 as a PhD student in Dr Katelyn Spillane’s group, where they are investigating how lymph node macrophages’ actin cytoskeleton controls immune-complex presentation and how this affects B cell activation.
Hannah graduated from the University of Kent in 2018 with a BSc in Biochemistry with a Professional Year. Her placement was undertaken with the Ministry of Defence, where she worked as an analyst. Her laboratory project was under the supervision of Dr Chris Toseland, optimising purification methods for full length oestrogen receptor α (ERα). Hannah continued under the supervision of Dr Toseland for her MRes, which she completed in 2019. She continued to investigate ERα by characterising the binding event with myosin VI – an interaction with potential for cancer therapeutics. She biochemically and biophysically characterised other transcription factors associated with myosin VI - namely NDP52 - using methods such as small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), size exclusion chromatography with multi-angle light scattering (SEC-MALS), microscale thermophoresis and fluorescence spectroscopy. Hannah joined the Department of Physics as a PhD student in October 2019. Here she is using high-resolution fluorescence microscopy and quantitative image analysis to systematically investigate mechanosensing in B cells, specifically looking at how physical factors at the immune synapse influence B cell activation.
PhD Student (co with Dr John Maher)
Ge received her BSc degree in Infection and Immunology from University College London (UCL) and MSc degree in Integrated Immunology from the University of Oxford. During her undergraduate project, she was supervised by Professor Charles Swanton at the Francis Crick Institute. Her project involved characterising the immune profiles of non-small cell lung cancer with multi-region transcriptomic analysis. In the final term of her MSc, she was involved in Professor David Jackson’s work in exploring the interaction between dendritic cell's hyalarunon glycocalyx and endothelial receptor LYVE-1. Ge's PhD research project focuses on understanding the role of immune synapse in CAR-T cells killing. Imaging is used to characterise the immune synapse structure of NKG2D CAR-T cells and explore how they contribute to the rapid serial cytotoxic killing of cancerous cells. These CAR-T cells were developed in Dr John Maher’s lab and are currently being used in human clinical trials. It is hoped this research will provide insights into the design of safer and more efficient CARs.
Michael graduated from University College London (UCL) with a BSc in Infection and Immunity. He undertook his undergraduate project at the Jury Lab where he investigated the differences in immune gene expression profiles of CD8+ killer T cells in Primary Sjogren's Syndrome patients. He then joined Professor Nissim's group at the William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI), assisting the team in their development and design of novel COVID-19 antibodies. Michael then moved to King's College to join Dr Katelyn Spillane's lab as a PhD student. Here he is investigating a role of mechanical force in B-cell antigen discrimination in the immune synapse using DNA-based sensors.