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Yi-Ling Chen completed her DPhil under the supervision of Professor Graham Ogg (MRC HIU, MRC WIMM, IMD), where she has investigated the immune networks in human cutaneous inflammation and the translational development of novel therapeutic approaches

yiling2.jpgI began my scientific career in the field of immunology during my BSc at National Central University, and MSc in National Taiwan University (NTU), College of Medicine. My training started in the lab of Professor S.L. Catherine Jin, to investigate the modulation of phosphodiesterase 4-mediated cAMP signalling in endotoxin-induced sepsis, after which I worked in the lab of Professor Chien-Kuo Lee, director of the Graduate Institute of Immunology at NTU, where I determined the effects of type I interferons (IFN-I) on plasmacytoid dendritic cell (pDC) development.

I received a four-year RDM Scholarship with the Clarendon-Jesus College Peter Jenks Award in 2014, and I joined the lab of Professor Graham Ogg as a DPhil student to investigate the immune networks in human cutaneous inflammation and the translational development of novel therapeutic approaches. My work has focussed on understanding the interaction and modulation of key innate immune cells in inflammatory conditions.

I was fortunate to be involved in a proof-of-concept phase 2a clinical trial for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. A single dose of an anti-IL-33 antibody (etokimab) was administrated and skin immune responses to challenges with house dust mite were assessed. Clinically, etokimab effectively interfered with neutrophil recruitment toward skin interstitial fluid by impairing the expression of their chemokine receptors. The work has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Another one of my primary projects was to identify novel therapeutic targets in sterile skin inflammation, in collaboration with Professors Sarah Teichmann and Muzlifah Haniffa's research groups. Using single-cell RNA sequencing techniques, subsets of dendritic cells (DCs) were identified as early infiltrators during human skin sterile inflammation, which were previously considered to be plasmacytoid dendritic cells in skin pathology. This finding prompts a re-evaluation of the heterogeneity and functional specialisation of DCs in humans (Journal of Experimental Medicine, in press).

In addition, I was pleased to have played a supportive role and been involved in collaborative work dissecting the involvement of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in skin inflammatory diseases. Several cytokines and cell surface molecules have been discovered in the lab to modulate ILC phenotypes and effector functions.

It has been a privilege to be a member of the Radcliffe Department of Medicine and the MRC Human Immunology Unit at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. The mentorship I received during my DPhil was, and continues to be, absolutely remarkable and I am truly grateful for the support and training opportunities. Since completing my DPhil, I have continued my research in Oxford as a Postdoctoral researcher, expanding my expertise and investigating the role of unconventional T cells in skin diseases.