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What we do

The development of antibody responses to most antigens and pathogens requires interaction between B and T cells. So helper signals from CD4 (helper) T cells are delivered to B cells, facilitating their differentiation into antibody secreting plasma cells. Although many details remain to be discovered, we know much about the molecular nature of T cell help for B cells (contact signals such as CD40 and soluble cytokines).

The interaction between B and T cells is, however, not one sided and so in return B cells provide signals to CD4 T cells that ‘help’ them in their differentiation to become effector T cells and memory T cells. We know much less about this process.

Our research focuses on the ways in which B cells influence the T cell response in vivo and the nature of the signals they use. We are very interested in the in vivo microenvironments for these interactions and use chimera models with gene-deficiencies restricted to B cell populations to dissect these processes during infection (eg. Salmonella).

Our work leads us to a better understanding of the development of immune memory in both B cell and CD4 T cell compartments, of the role that B cells play as programmers and regulators of T cell responses (eg. in autoimmunity) and the dynamics of effector B and T cell responses. This fundamental knowledge contributes to improvements in vaccines and the development immune-based disease therapy.

If you want to know more have a look at the Research page.

What else is going on around here

The Gray Lab is part of the Institute of Immunology and Infection Research (IIIR), which comprises the largest concentration of immunology research in Edinburgh. In turn IIIR is one of the six Institutes that forms the School of Biological Sciences and so in adjacent buildings researchers are pursuing cell and molecular biology, systems and structural biology, plant sciences and stem cell research. IIIR shares its home in the Ashworth Laboratories with the Institute of Evolutionary Biology. We are currently in the process of establishing a Centre of Immunity, Infection and Evolution (CIIE), with funding from the Wellcome Trust

The research in IIIR ranges from fundamental immunology (Gray, MacDonald, Zamoyska), through parasite immunology, focussing on immune regulation of disease (Allen, Maizels, Taylor) and genetics and cell/molecular biology of parasites (malaria, eg. Rowe and trypanosomes eg. Matthews) to epidemiology (Woolhouse) and mathematical biology (Savill). There is also significant vaccine development effort (eg. Cavanagh and Arnot). IIIR is well resourced for cutting edge immunology and infection research, with state of the art flow cytometry facilities, pathogen confocal imaging, mouse breeding facilities and next generation sequencing (via the GenePool).

Information about the immunology research done at other sites in Edinburgh, can be found at the links listed in the next section.

Links to immunology in Edinburgh

The Centre for Inflammation Research is based in the Medical School in the Queen's Medical Research Institute, at Little France. Other Medical School departments also have significant research activity in the fields of immunology and infection including, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the Rosln Institute, the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Division of Pathway Medicine. The Centre for Infectious Diseases (CID) provides a broad umbrella for infectious disease research in Edinburgh. Others include Moredun Research Institute

Two major Immunology and Infection Seminar Series run on alternate Thursday's throughout the academic year. These are the IIIR seminar series and the Edinburgh Immunology Group, a British Society for Immunology Regional Group.