Dr Steven Smith
I obtained a B.Sc. in Medical Sciences from the University of Leeds and received a Ph.D. for a project at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) Cancer Medicine Research Unit at St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, investigating the CD8 T-cell stimulating properties of a DNA vaccine encoding multiple, melanoma-associated epitopes. Following a post-doctoral position at the Edward Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research in which I examined the role of auto-reactive CD8 T-cells and T-cell regulation in the context of joint inflammation, I joined the group of Prof. Hazel Dockrell where I have been concerned with the cellular immune response to BCG vaccination and more generally with immune mechanisms that might provide protection against tuberculosis infection and disease.
I am involved with the MSc in Immunology of Infectious Diseases as a lecturer, pratical class organiser, personal tutor and project supervisor and with MSc Infectious Diseases (Distance Learning). I am a member of the programme committees and exam boards for these courses.
I am deputy module organiser and lecturer for 3134/3144 Advanced Immunology
I am module organiser for IDM213 Immunology of infection and vaccines (DL)
I am interested in understanding which immune response elements are responsible for protection against infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB, as well as those which prevent the development of active TB disease.
Although it provides incomplete protection against TB, there is much to be learnt from the immune response to the BCG vaccine which in certain circumstances, may be effective. Although traditionally seen as T-cell-mediated, recent times have seen an increased interested in the role of B-cells and antibodies as well as potentially long-lived innate cells in immune protection against TB. As BCG is known to impact upon each of these immune compartments, each or all could have a role in protection.
In collaboration with teams at the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Unit in Uganda, the International Tuberculosis Research Center, Korea and Institut Politecnico Nacional, Mexico, we use samples from BCG-vaccinated infants, a variety of in vitro cellular models of innate and adaptive immune responses and analytical methods such as functional bacterial inhibition assays, multiparameter flow cytomtry, ELISA/Luminex and DNA methylation analysis to probe questions such as:
- the phenotype and function of BCG-vaccine-induced T-cells
- the potential for BCG-"trained" monocytes to protect against TB
- the role of metabolic intermediates in BCG-induced trained immunity and the potential for these to enhance vaccine effectiveness
- the use of immunological biomarker assays to monitor responses in patients and in vaccine trials against TB in different settings
I am primary superviser for a PhD student working on a project entitled "Does the BCG vaccine protect infants from severe forms of childhood tuberculosis by trained innate and humoral immune mechanisms?"