Theresa Ward BSc DPhil

Associate Professor of Cell Biology


Theresa Ward (nee Roberts) obtained her first degree in Biochemistry & Genetics from Nottingham University in 1991 and her DPhil at University of Sussex in 1996 studying membrane trafficking in fission yeast under the supervision of Dr John Armstrong. She then moved to the National Institutes of Health in the States to work in the laboratory of Dr Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz. During her time as a postdoc, Theresa focussed on the application of cutting edge live-cell microscopy techniques to visualise and analyse trafficking in the secretory pathway of mammalian cells. In 2002, she was awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship and moved to the LSHTM to establish her own laboratory. She is particularly interested in integrating confocal microscopy technology and advanced cell and biological techniques to investigate the membrane trafficking pathways involved in host:pathogen cell interactions.




Theresa teaches on the MSc Immunology of Infectious Diseases and is Study Unit organiser for the Molecular Cell Biology and Infection module.


When activated B cells differentiate into plasma cells, huge changes in the cell's secretory machinery take place as the cell converts into an antibody production factory. I am particularly interested in regulation of the early secretory pathway, how the machinery recognises the so-called ER (endoplasmic reticulum) exit sites, where they form, and how this system is then controlled in the specialised secretory plasma cells. In the first instance, I am studying trafficking through the secretory pathway and the maintenance of organelle identity in undifferentiated cell types. I can then build on this knowledge to understand the changes that occur during proliferation of the secretion apparatus in normal plasma cell development and also when the cells are infected with Epstein Barr virus (EBV). I use a wide range of cell and molecular biological approaches in addition to confocal microscopy and other advanced imaging techniques to investigate the spatial and temporal relationship of intracellular components in living mammalian cells. Specific topics include:

* biogenesis and maintenance of ER exit sites

* the role of microtubules in ER-Golgi transport

* recruitment and sorting of secretory cargo

* mechanisms involved in proliferation of the secretory pathway during B cell activation

* pathogenesis of B cells upon infection with EBV, in collaboration with Dr Tanzina Haque (Department of Virology, Royal Free Hospital).

I am involved in a number of collaborations looking at the interaction of membrane trafficking machinery with intracellular pathogens, including the interaction of E. coli K1 strain with human brain endothelial cells, with Dr Naveed Khan (University of Nottingham).

Recent funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has set up a Category 3 in vivo imaging suite, to investigate bioluminescent and fluorescent models for tuberculosis and trypanosomiaisis research and drug testing.

Research areas

  • Bacteria
  • Drug discovery and development
  • Neonatal health
  • Viruses


  • Cell biology
  • Molecular biology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Herpesviruses
  • Infectious disease
  • Meningitis
  • Sepsis

Other interests

  • "in vivo imaging"
  • B Cell Immunology
  • Bacterial Infections
  • ER To Golgi Trafficking
  • GFP Technology
  • Imaging
  • Live Cell Imaging
  • Organelles
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