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Dr Andrew Williams
Appointment
  • Senior Research Associate
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Div of Medicine
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences
Biography

I was awarded my PhD in Immunology from the University of London in 2001. Since then I have gained considerable research expertise in the fields of immunology and lung disease. Early postdoctoral experience was obtained at Imperial College London, at the Centre for Microbiology and Infection, where I studied the immunopathogenesis of influenza virus, RSV and fungal infections of the lung. Research focused on how excessive inflammation can be modulated by bacterial components and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Work on immune regulation was furthered at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) at Imperial College, where I developed international recognition for research on how microRNAs control lung development and inflammatory immune responses, as well as elucidating the role that microRNAs play in complex lung diseases such as asthma. Now at the Centre for Inflammation and Tissue Repair at University College London, my research focuses on how acute lung inflammation is regulated at both the cellular and molecular level, with particular interest in chemokine networks, neutrophil biology and and the regulation of inflammation.

I have published many scientific articles in leading, peer reviewed journals, and presented work at both national and international conferences. I routinely peer reviews manuscripts for journals such as PLOS One, BMC Genomics, Experimental Lung Research, Expert Reviews, Clinical and Experimental Immunology and Immunology Letters, and review major grants for Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, the Health Research Board (Ireland) and the Helmholtz Association (Germany).

Research Summary

Active research interests focus on the regulation of inflammation associated with lung disease. In particular I am interested in the role that neutrophils play in the pathogenesis of lung diseases such as ARDS, COPD and IPF, with particular emphasis on chemokine networks and the regulation of inflammatory immune responses. A better understanding of how acute inflammatory responses are activated, regulated and resolved will allow us to discover and develop novel therapeutics for human use. Inflammation is a key component of many lung diseases including acute lung injury, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diseases caused by pathogenic viruses and bacteria such as influenza virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Regulation of inflammatory immune responses can occur at several levels, involving different cell types, anti-inflammatory cytokines, and transcription factors. A key area of my research focuses on how complex chemokine networks influence the accumulation of inflammatory cells at sites of inflammation. These chemokine networks are often contextual, meaning that a certain chemokine influences the migration of different leukocytes depending on the associated milieu of chemokines and cytokines. I am particularly interested in neutrophil migration into the lung, which is dependent on the classic chemoattractant CXCL8 (IL-8) and the non-conventional neutrophil chemoattractants CCL2 and CCL7.

Several inflammatory mediators are expressed in the lung during inflammation. However, how these factors regulate neutrophil effector functions is still poorly understood in the context of acute lung inflammation. Although it is understood that some of these factors regulate neutrophil migration, their effects on other neutrophil effector functions is poorly understood. My lab therefore explores how neutrophil degranulation, neutrophil extracellular trap formation (NETosis), phagocytosis and cytokine release are regulated. 

Teaching Summary

I am module tutor on MSc in Human Tissue Repair at UCL, for Principles of Immunology and Immunological basis of disease. I lecture on various aspects of basic immunology and applied immunology, to students on BSc and MSc degree courses. I also run small group teaching modules for BSc, MSc and medical BSc students and hold informal tutorials in immunology, pharmacology and cell biology for MSc and PhD students. I have extensively supervised PhD, BSc, MRes, MSc and medical students in the laboratory and have been a formal PhD student supervisor. I currently supervise MSc and PhD students at UCL and I am a personal tutor for  students across UCL. . Furthermore, I am an author of an immunology textbook, Immunology: mucosal and body surface defences, which is published by Wiley Inc (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/book/10.1002/9781119998648)

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