Dr Vicky Morrison
- Arthritis Research UK Fellow (Immunology)
Having first discovered my passion for immunological research during my undergraduate studies, I have embarked on an academic career and am committed to a career in scientific research. I am driven by the need to understand the ‘basic science’ of immune cell function and to use this knowledge to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Specifically, my research interests have always focussed on immune cell migration and interactions, two aspects of immune cell function that are paramount to all immune responses and play key roles in inflammatory diseases.
PhD, University of Edinburgh, 2007-2010: The aims of my PhD project were to investigate alterations in B cells during the early stages of an immune response, using Salmonella as a model infection in mice. The most significant finding from this study was that B cells respond rapidly to the presence of bacteria by shedding an adhesion receptor, called L-selectin, from their surface, resulting in altered B cell migration patterns. This mechanism helps to focus the immune response to the major site of infection (the spleen) and aids in bacterial clearance (Morrison et al, 2010, Journal of Immunology).
Postdoc, University of Dundee, 2010-2013: During my postdoctoral work with Dr Susanna Fagerholm, I investigated the function of another family of adhesion receptors, beta2 integrins. Integrins are vital for the normal function of immune cells, and deficiency in this family of adhesion receptors is associated with inflammatory disease in mice and humans. My postdoctoral work produced several original findings: we identified the mechanism by which a novel integrin interacting protein, kindlin-3, contributes to lymphocyte migration and activation (Morrison et al, 2013, Blood; Morrison et al, 2015, Journal of Immunology), described how integrins contribute to effector T cell recruitment to sites of inflammation from the bloodstream (Lek & Morrison et al, 2013, Journal of Biological Chemistry), and investigated the involvement of integrins in the inflammatory response to high fat feeding (Meakin & Morrison et al, 2015, Plos One). Together, these studies provide insight into the diverse roles this integrin family play in the immune system, further highlighting the need to fully understand their functions before they can be targeted therapeutically.
Postdoc, University of Helsinki, 2014 (6 months): I was awarded a postdoctoral research scholarship to continue working with Dr Susanna Fagerholm to investigate integrin function in dendritic cells. This exciting work produced novel insight into the role of beta2 integrins as negative regulators of immune cells (Morrison et al, 2014, Nature Communications). Our identification of a novel immune regulatory pathway has important translational implications, as future work into the molecular mechanism involved could provide new therapeutic targets.
Postdoc, University of Glasgow, 2014-2015 (8 months): Whilst awaiting the outcome of various fellowship applications, I carried out a postdoctoral research project at the GLAZgo Discovery Centre to assess the effects of specific small molecule inhibitors on immune cell migration.
Research Fellow, University of Glasgow, 2015-present: Having been awarded a prestigious Career Development Fellowship by Arthritis Research UK, the aims of my research group are to further investigate how integrins regulate the immune system and to assess the impact of this regulatory pathway in maintaining health and preventing inflammatory disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
I have recently begun a 5-year Career Development Fellowship funded by Arthritis Research UK.
The focus of my research is to understand how dendritic cells, the key immune cell type responsible for inducing immune activation or tolerance, are controlled by adhesion molecules expressed on their cell surface called integrins. Using models of inflammation, tolerance and autoimmunity (rheumatoid arthritis), I am investigating how integrins suppress dendritic cell function, and how this influences interactions with T cells and the subsequent immune response.
My lab group is part of LIVE: the Laboratory of Immune cell Visualisation and Examination. Visit the LIVE website for more details.
Claire McIntyre (pictured, left): PhD student, 2016-2019, funded by the College of MVLS doctoral training programme
"I am on the 3.5 year MVLS doctoral training program and started working with Vicky in January 2016 for a 3-month lab rotation after which I decided to stay in the lab to continue by PhD. My project is focused on the role of beta2 integrins in two very different immune cells - dendritic cells (DCs) and γδ T cells. In dendritic cells I would like to understand what effect integrins have on DC activation/migration, the signalling pathways involved and what impact this has on the subsequent immune response. In γδ T cells I am investigating the importance of beta2 integrins in their development, migration and function."
Leonie Schittenhelm (pictured, right): PhD student, joined the lab in Oct 2017, funded by the Rheumatoid Arthritis Centre of Excellence (RACE)
"As my PhD is funded as part of RACE, I am supervised by both Vicky and Dr. Catharien Hilkens at Newcastle University. My project aims to understand if dysregulation of integrin signalling especially on dendritic cells could contribute to rheumatoid arthritis pathology. Additionally, we are investigating how targeting integrin signalling could improve the application of human tolerogenic dendritic cell therapy."
Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.
- Investigating the integrin-dependent biology of T cells to improve cancer treatment
The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
2018 - 2019
- Exploring the therapeutic potential of targeting beta2 integrins in Rheumatoid Arthritis
2018 - 2019
- ISSF Catalyst: Use of transcriptomics to determine how integrins regulate migratory dendritic cells and inflammation
2015 - 2018
- Integrin-mediated regulation of leukocytes in autoimmunity.
Arthritis Research UK
2015 - 2021
- Immunology 3A & 3B Journal Clubs
- Immunology 4 Critical Analysis of Scientific Literature
Professional activities & recognition
- 2015: Career Development Fellowship - Versus Arthritis
Professional & learned societies
- 2007: member, British Society for Immunology
Selected international presentations
- 2017: invited seminar (King's College London)
- 2017: invited seminar (Newcastle University)
Co-organiser of the Centre for Immunobiology seminar series
Organiser of the annual Centre for Immunobiology ECR symposium
Reviewer for PLOS One & Immunology
Presentations & Meetings
March 2017: Newcastle University
May 2017: King's College London
2017: Therapeutic Tolerance: first in human data, Newcastle University (oral presentation)
2016: Gordon Research Conference, Girona, Spain (poster presentation)
2016: RACE symposium, Newcastle University (oral presentation)
2015: Leukocyte Migration in Health and Disease conference, University of Birmingham (oral presentation)
2015: Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation symposium, University of Glasgow (oral presentation)
2014: Finnish Cell Biology Symposium, Lammi, Finland (oral presentation)
2014: Institute of Biotechnology symposium, Helsinki, Finland (oral presentation)
2013: The Leading Edge of Leukocyte Migration conference, Glasgow, UK (oral presentation)
2013: International Congress of Immunology, Milan, Italy (oral presentation)
2013: Gordon Research Seminar & Conference, Galveston, Texas, USA (chair & poster presentation)
2012: Division of Cancer Research Symposium, University of Dundee, UK (oral presentation)
2012: European Congress of Immunology, Glasgow, UK (oral presentation)
2011: British Society of Immunology Congress, Liverpool, UK (poster presentation)
2010: British Society of Immunology Congress, Liverpool, UK (oral presentation)
2010: Scottish Immunology Group conference, St Andrews, UK (poster presentation)
2009: ENII Summer School, Sardinia, Italy (poster presentation)
2008: British Society of Immunology conference, Glasgow, UK (poster presentation)