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Prof Jennifer Rohn
Centre for Nephrology, Division of Medicine
Royal Free Hospital campus
Prof Jennifer Rohn profile picture
  • Professorial Research Fellow
  • Renal Medicine
  • 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 signalling 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 was awarded 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. I became a PI in the Centre for Nephrology in 2015, and Head of the Centre for Urological Biology in 2018. I am also a media expert for UCL in the field of infectious diseases, and appear frequently on national and international mainstream broadcast media in this capacity.

Research Summary

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infectious diseases worldwide, causing significant morbidity and mortality. With the sheer number of antibiotics dispensed to control it, UTI is a crucial driver of the global Antimicrobial Resistance Crisis. Treatment options and diagnostic tests are both suboptimal and have not improved for several generations. My laboratory studies the host/pathogen interactions of recurrent and chronic urinary tract infection at the cell and molecular level in close collaboration with clinicians and their patients. Our ethos is that clinical insights should feed the research programme, and research results are fed back into clinical practice as soon as possible. More recently, we have also been funded to investigate novel treatments for urothelial cancers. My lab employs live imaging, electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, microbiology, genomics, cell biology and molecular techniques, with the ultimate goal of understanding the bacterial life cycle in urothelial cells, in particular the invasive properties, biofilm formation and intracellular colonization of certain uropathogenic bacteria, and determining what features distinguish virulent bacteria from commensals that inhabit the urinary tract. We are also continuously developing and improving novel tissue engineering strategies to grow human organotypic bladder epithelia in culture, including innovative "organ-on-chip" technology, 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 biomedical engineers and materials scientists to create encapsulated antibiotics and chemotherapeutics for bladder delivery.

Teaching Summary

- Awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, 2019

- Programme Lead, iBSc Clinical Sciences (2021 - present)

- Deputy Course Director, Applied Medical Sciences, and Admissions Tutor (2018-present)

Faculty Careers Liaison (2018-present)

- Teaching on the Applied Medical Sciences degree course (2014- present) and other courses in the Faculty

- Module Lead for the Principles of Pathological Sciences (MEDC0007) module (2015-2021)

- Module Lead for the Infection, Immunity and Repair (MEDC0005) module (2016-2018)

Academic Background
2019   ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow University College London
1996   Doctor of Philosophy University of Washington Seattle
1990   Bachelor of Arts Oberlin College
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