Theresa Ward

BSc DPhil

Associate Professor
of Cell Biology

Room 483

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 207 927 2649

+44 (0) 207 323 5687

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.


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Infection Biology


Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)


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 (Sunway University, Malaysia).

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recently funded a study to investigate the relationship between neonatal bacterial infections and maternal cholesterol levels in collaboration with Dr Kenneth Ssebambulidde (Infectious Diseases Research Institute, Makerere University, Uganda).

Research Area
Drug discovery and development
Neonatal health
Cell biology
Molecular biology
Disease and Health Conditions
Infectious disease
United Kingdom
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Relationship between maternal and/or newborn cholesterol levels and neonatal septicemia: protocol for a Ugandan cohort of mother-newborn pairs.
Ssebambulidde K; Kayiira A; Segawa I; Namanda S; Nakibuuka V; Musiime V; Ward TH
BMC Pediatrics
Dose-dependent effect and pharmacokinetics of fexinidazole and its metabolites in a mouse model of human African trypanosomiasis.
Burrell-Saward H; Harris AJ; de LaFlor R; Sallam H; Alavijeh MS; Ward TH; Croft SL
International journal of antimicrobial agents
Escherichia coli K1 utilises host macropinocytic pathways for invasion of brain microvascular endothelial cells.
Loh LN; McCarthy EMC; Narang P; Khan NA; Ward TH
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Trehalose dimycolate interferes with FcγR-mediated phagosome maturation through Mincle, SHP-1 and FcγRIIB signalling.
Patin EC; Geffken AC; Willcocks S; Leschczyk C; Haas A; Nimmerjahn F; Lang R; Ward TH; Schaible UE
PloS one
Bioluminescence Imaging to Detect Late Stage Infection of African Trypanosomiasis.
Burrell-Saward H; Ward TH
Journal of visualized experiments
Mincle-mediated anti-inflammatory IL-10 response counter-regulates IL-12 in vitro.
Patin EC; Willcocks S; Orr S; Ward TH; Lang R; Schaible UE
Innate immunity
A sensitive and reproducible in vivo imaging mouse model for evaluation of drugs against late-stage human African trypanosomiasis.
Burrell-Saward H; Rodgers J; Bradley B; Croft SL; Ward TH
The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy
See more Publications