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Dr Gillian Tomlinson
Cruciform Building
University College London
Dr Gillian Tomlinson profile picture
  • MRC Clinician Scientist Research Fellow
  • Div of Infection & Immunity
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

I hold a medical degree from Edinburgh University and undertook postgraduate training in general medicine in Glasgow and London. I began my specialist training in respiratory medicine in Glasgow, and subsequently undertook an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship leading to a PhD in Immunology at University College London (UCL), which focussed on the roles of monocytes and macrophages in respiratory tract inflammation. I then applied my bioinformatics and computational expertise to discriminate TB, sarcoidosis and cancer in lymph node samples from patients under investigation for mediastinal lymphadenopathy, within my NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer post. After completing my specialist respiratory training in London, I worked as a consultant respiratory physician in Glasgow, before returning to UCL with an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship, which funds my current research programme.

Research Groups
Research Summary
We aim to extend current understanding of host determinants of protection and pathogenesis in immune-mediated disease, with a principal focus on tuberculosis (TB). Ultimately, this will inform development of novel therapeutic strategies, improved vaccines and new diagnostic tools. We combine transcriptomic profiling of human TB samples with the zebrafish Mycobacterium marinum infection model of TB, to study factors that calibrate an effective immune response, able to control bacterial growth without pathology (MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship). We developed a novel bioinformatic approach to identify drivers of variable human immune responses correlated with TB severity, which suggests Type I interferon responses may be protective. We are currently testing whether genetic manipulation of levels of selected Type I interferon pathway components impacts disease severity in zebrafish larval mycobacterial infection, using CRISPR genome editing to model gene deficiency. More recently we exploited single-cell transcriptome and T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire profiling of bronchoalveolar cells to study the immune pathogenesis of post-COVID lung disease (BRC grant). We found marked clustering of related TCRs from multiple donors, suggestive of antigen-specific T cell responses to tissue-localised epitopes. Lack of enrichment for SARS-CoV-2-specific TCRs suggests T cell-mediated immunopathology arising from failure of immunological tolerance to self-antigens. Our data suggest therapies targeting T cells may have a role in preventing lung tissue damage following SARS-CoV-2 infection. In future we aim to expand our focus beyond respiratory infection and take advantage of the fact that zebrafish larvae provide a model to study innate immune responses in isolation. We aim to identify and validate the principal drivers of innate immune response pathways that affect the outcome of diverse infectious and inflammatory diseases. We will adopt innate immune skin challenge models in healthy people and test genes that drive variation in human cell type-specific innate immune responses in a range of zebrafish inflammation models.
Teaching Summary
Lecturer on IMIN0017 HIV Frontiers from Research to Clinics and IMIN0035 Infection and Immunity.
01-MAR-2016 Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Infection and Immunity University College London, United Kingdom
13-APR-2015 – 29-FEB-2016 Consultant in Respiratory and General Medicine   Glasgow Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom
03-OCT-2012 – 10-APR-2015 NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer Medicine University College London, United Kingdom
03-AUG-2011 – 02-OCT-2012 SpR Respiratory and General Medicine   West of Scotland Deanery, United Kingdom
10-SEP-2007 – 02-AUG-2011 MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow   University College London, United Kingdom
04-AUG-2004 – 03-AUG-2007 SpR Respiratory and General Medicine   West of Scotland Deanery, United Kingdom
04-FEB-2004 – 03-AUG-2004 Experienced SHO Respiratory Medicine   Royal Brompton Hospital, United Kingdom
07-AUG-2003 – 03-FEB-2004 Experienced SHO Respiratory Medicine   Hairmyres Hospital, United Kingdom
07-AUG-2002 – 06-AUG-2003 Experienced SHO Respiratory Medicine   Glasgow Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom
03-AUG-2000 – 06-AUG-2002 SHO Medicine   Glasgow Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom
02-FEB-2000 – 01-AUG-2000 PRHO Surgery   West Cumberland Hospital, United Kingdom
03-AUG-1999 – 01-FEB-2000 PRHO Medicine   St John's Hospital, Livingston, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2012   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2002   Member of the Royal College of Physicians Royal College of Physicians
1999   Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery University of Edinburgh
1996   Bachelor of Science (Honours) University of Edinburgh
    Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Royal College of Physicians
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