- Immunologist studying the role of the protein SAMHD1
I studied molecular and cellular biology at the University of Brussels (ULB, Belgium) after having completed my undergraduate studies in biotechnology and crop sciences (HEPHC, Belgium). During my master’s degree I did a 6 month internship in the vaccine department of GlaxoSmithKline (Rixensart, Belgium) to gain insight into research within the pharmaceutical industry and to write my master’s thesis. In addition, I did a 3 month placement at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (Oxford, United Kingdom) where I performed academic research in Prof Jan Rehwinkel’s laboratory. During that time I discovered a passion for immunology – I loved academic research and I decided to undertake a PhD. My PhD programme (Infection, Immunology and Translational Medicine, Wellcome Trust) rotates in 3 different laboratories during the first year, which allowed me to learn different topics, to network in different institutes and to push me to adapt quickly. I worked with Kevin Maloy on intestinal immunity, Richard Cornall on rare B-cell disorders and with Helen McShane on tuberculosis vaccination (during which I wrote a review in Expert Review of Vaccines). I decided to spend the next 3-years of my PhD in Prof Jan Rehwinkel’s laboratory, exploring the role of a protein called SAMHD1, a deoxynuclotide (dNTP) triphosphohydrolase. SAMHD1 protein is mutated in some patients suffering from an interferinopathy called Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome (AGS) and mutations have been linked to chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and colon cancer. Although the protein is mainly studied for its host restriction function against HIV, I am exploring a metabolic function of the protein in dealing with dNTP unbalances. Since dNTPs are DNA’s building blocks, gaining insight into how the protein is regulating dNTP pools in specific contexts such as highly proliferative cells (cancer cells) could help developing treatment for AGS or CLL. I am delighted to be conducting my research in one of the best research institutes in the world where mentoring, collaboration and team work are key values, and to have had the opportunity to present my work in the UK and to go to international conferences such as the Keystone meeting.”
Identify SAMHD1's conserved function
Why don't we have an effective tuberculosis vaccine yet?
Davenne T. and McShane H., (2016), Expert Rev Vaccines, 15, 1009 - 1013
Viruses transfer the antiviral second messenger cGAMP between cells.
Bridgeman A. et al, (2015), Science, 349, 1228 - 1232