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Dr Jennifer Rohn
Centre for Nephrology, Division of Medicine
Royal Free Hospital campus
  • Principal Research Associate
  • Nephrology
  • Div of Medicine
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

I was born in Stow, Ohio USA, received a BA in Biology summa cum laude from Oberlin College in 1990, and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1996 studying retroviral pathogen/host interactions in a cat model. I performed post-doctoral research on apoptosis and cancer at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute in the lab of Prof Gerard Evan FRS, then led a research team at Leadd BV, a start-up biotech company in the Netherlands, discovering novel drug targets for cancer. After a research career break, I won a Wellcome Trust Career-Entry Fellowship at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL, gaining expertise in high-throughput RNA interference screening to study the role of actin and the cytoskeleton in cell shape and movement. When this was completed, I moved to my current post in 2012. I became a naturalized British citizen in 2011.

Research Summary

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infectious diseases worldwide, causing significant morbidity and mortality. My laboratory studies the pathogen/host interactions of chronic urinary tract infection at the molecular level, in close collaboration with the Whittington Hospital outpatients clinic for lower urinary tract symptoms run by Professor James Malone-Lee. Our ethos is that clinical insights should feed the research programme, and research results are fed back into clinical practice as soon as possible. My lab employs live imaging, electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, microbiology and RNA interference techniques, with the ultimate goal of understanding the bacterial life cycle in urothelial cells, in particular the invasive properties and intracellular colonization of certain uropathogenic bacteria. We are also developing novel tissue engineering strategies to grow organotypic bladder epithelia in culture to study the basic biology of infection and repair, as well as to be used as a test-bed for novel therapeutic strategies. In parallel, we are collaborating with engineers to create encapsulated antibiotics for bladder delivery, and are studying the role of biofilm formation in chronic infection. 

Teaching Summary

I have been seconded as a teaching fellow on the Applied Medical Sciences degree course since August 2014, where we are using an innovative 'flipped learning' strategy. 

I am currently primary supervisor to two PhD students, and have co-supervised one MRes student in 2012.

Academic Background
1996 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Microbiology University of Washington Seattle
1990 BA Bachelor of Arts – Biology Oberlin College
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