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ACTERIA Doctoral Thesis Prize 2015 in Immunology

Dr. Chris Schiering

Chris Schiering, 33, graduated with an MSci in Immunology from the University of Glasgow (Scotland). He conducted his MSci research projects in the labs of Dr. Anna Mondino (San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy) and Prof. Rob Nibbs (University of Glasgow). He obtained his PhD in Infection, Immunology and Translational Medicine in the lab of Prof. Fiona Powrie, University of Oxford. Since then he has obtained a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship and is currently working in the lab of Prof. Gitta Stockinger, The Francis Crick Institute, London. He has published 9 original papers in Nature, Immunity, Mucosal Immunology, Cancer Research, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Journal of Immunology and Blood.

During his PhD, Dr Schiering’s research focused on the cellular and molecular mechanism of IL-23 driven intestinal inflammation. The cytokine IL-23 is a key player in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. Dr Schiering showed that IL-23 acts directly on T cells to drive pathogenic responses through multiple mechanisms. Through direct effects on T cells, IL-23 drives the emergence of IFN-producing Th17 cells and actively interferes with regulatory pathways to promote the inflammatory response. The search for the mechanism by which IL-23 restrains regulatory T cell activity led to the identification of a new function for the alarmin IL-33. We now understand that colonic regulatory T cells are poised to respond to the release of IL-33 upon tissue damage through selective expression of the receptor for IL-33 and that signalling through this pathway has an essential role in their capacity to adapt to the inflammatory tissue environment and restrain intestinal inflammation. Strikingly, IL-23 restrained regulatory T cell responses through inhibition of IL-33 responsiveness. These findings suggest that therapeutic blockade of IL-23 is likely to reduce pro-inflammatory mediators while also facilitating the expansion of regulatory pathways that might help to re-establish intestinal homeostasis.

Dr Schiering is currently working in the lab of Prof. Gitta Stockinger, The Francis Crick Institute, London, on the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in immunity. He is trying to understand how the AhR pathway mediates the bidirectional cross talk between dietary compounds, the microbiota and the immune system