Dr Jayne Sutherland
MRC Unit, The Gambia at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
I have been permanently based in The Gambia since 2006; initially as a post-doc and now as head of the TB research group which consists of the TB case-contact (TBCC) cohort and the TB immunology laboratory. My PhD and early post-doctoral career were spent in Australia and London respectively with a focus on immunotherapy for cancer; I changed research objectives to infectious disease immunology when I moved to the MRC Unit, The Gambia (MRCG). The TBCC cohort is one of the longest running case-contact cohorts worldwide and provides a unique opportunity for multi- disciplinary research. It is run in close collaboration with the national TB program to promote health systems strengthening and public engagement. Underpinning all our studies is fundamental science to determine mechanisms, risk factors, and biomarkers/correlates of risk for TB infection and disease. Current research projects in my laboratory include elucidating the risk factors for long-term lung pathology in TB; defining the role of non-classical T cells, B cells and antibodies in the early response to Mtb infection; defining correlates of risk for progression to active TB; understanding immunity at the site of infection; immunity to TB in the context of HIV and other co-infections (including Influenza) and development of rapid diagnostic tests for TB.
I am deputy MO for DL MSc IDM213 immunology of Infection and Vaccines and a tutor for DL IDM 502 tuberculosis. I also lecture for MSc IID.
The TB case-contact (TBCC) platform at the MRC Unit in The Gambia provides a unique opportunity to characterize immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) across the spectrum of infection and disease. This long-running platform (20 years) recruits index TB cases and their close contacts and aligns microbiology with epidemiological, clinical, and immunological evaluation. My main research focus includes biomarker discovery, impact of co-infections (including SARS-CoV-2) and diagnostic development. My research group are involved in several projects aimed at dissecting the key transition points in the Mtb life cycle and include both clinical and basic immunology studies. I also hold a patent on the use of host biomarkers in sputum for diagnosis of TB. We have excellent on-site facilities including sequencers, targeted RNA analyzers, three 18-colour flow cytometers and 2 new Bioplex 100/200 machines.
The three major projects in my lab currently are:
1. TB Sequel II (2023-2028)
Role: Site PI
Overview: This project is a multi-site study (Gambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and involves understanding the pathogenesis and risk factors of long-term lung damage following TB treatment. Analysis now includes the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on pulmonary outcome.
2. ENDx-TB (2020-2025)
Overview: The aim of this project is to perform head-to-head comparison of novel TB diagnostics/prognostics with current gold-standard tests. This is a multi-site study (Gambia, South Africa, Vietnam) analysing child, adolescent and adult patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of TB but prior to microbiological confirmation. In addition, exposed household contacts will be recruited to determine the utility of point-of-care tests for detection of sub-clinical TB.
3. TBVAC-HORIZON (2023-2027)
Funder: European Union
Overview: The aim of this project is to:
increase our understanding and develop tools pertaining to immune protection in the lung, the major site of tuberculosis infection. This knowledge will be exploited to develop mucosal strategies for translating towards clinical evaluation and
possible implementation. The interwoven activities will consolidate Europe’s leading role in TB vaccine research and innovation, with the ultimate goal of accelerated availability of affordable, accessible and more effective TB vaccines.
Research degree supervision
I currently have research degree students working on microbiological and immunological aspects of TB. I am interested in supervising research degree students working on clinical or immunological aspects of Tuberculosis including post-TB lung disease.