Firstly, we would like to thank Professor Marysia Placzek for letting our lab use her vibratome for the past few years. Alas, all good things must come to an end and the machine stopped working earlier this year.
Thanks to the generosity of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular disease, our Phd student Mahrukh was able to apply for a grant to secure funds for a new machine! We would like to thank the department for their help and are excited to use the vibratome in our research!
HONOURABLE NEW LAB MEMBERS
After a year of online meetings and lab catch-ups, the Johnston Lab was able to meet up for a socially distanced lab catch up! However, it wasn't just them! We were joined by Chris's son Rowan and Simon's dog Autumn! We look forward to more in person socially distanced meetings in the future!
A WARM welcome to our master's students!
We want to say a big welcome to our new Master's students Rebecca, Mabel and Matthew! They will all be joining us for a short research project looking at host pathogen interactions! To learn more about their projects, click here! We hope they enjoy their time in our lab!
Mahrukh joins the national vaccination efforts!
Our very own PhD student, Mahrukh has joined the St John's Ambulance vaccination volunteering team as a patient carer and vaccination advocate! She is part of the huge team at St John's who are working with volunteers within the NHS in the national programme. Her roles include: providing information about the vaccines, answering questions, ensuring that patients are aware of the process and patient care after vaccination. She has also been trained as a vaccinator too.
From her experience so far, Mahrukh has said "I am so excited to be joining the St John's Ambulance team! Everyone has been so welcoming and kind and there is a real sense of community here. We are all working so hard to make sure that every patient has a really positive experience here. We hope that everyone who comes here, feels well informed and well taken care of. This national programme is a massive undertaking and it feels great to be part of such an amazing cause. I am grateful to be able help with the solution. Thank you St John's Ambulance for this opportunity!"
Thank you Mahrukh for your great work. We are all so proud of you!
CHRIS joins fight against COVID-19 at Lighthouse Lab
Chris joined the Lighthouse Labs COVID testing labs to help in the fight against COVID-19. The labs were set up by the government to provide nationwide testing at multiple sites across the country.
Thank you Chris for all your hard work!
how to be an ally by dimen diversity
DiMeN Diversity has launched their new seminar series! It kicked off with a seminar with Dr Jessica Wade from Imperial College London about how to be an ally. Dr Jessica Wade gave tips on how we can be better allies such as speaking up more against injustices, recognising our own privileges and listening to others even when things get uncomfortable.
Our very own Mahrukh is the team lead of the group and helped organise the event! They will be hosting a new seminar based around equality, diversity and inclusion! Follow them on twitter for upcoming seminars and more information!
stella joins fight against COVID-19
The Johnston Labs PhD student Stella, has recently joined Dr Thushan de Silva’s lab in IICD at the University of Sheffield to help in the fight against COVID-19. The lab is part of the COG-UK consortium and sequences COVID-19 from different patients and medical stuff samples.
Stella is really enjoying her time in the labs stating "The process of sequencing is really fun and there is a national attempt to collect as much information from COVID-19 positive patients as possible to hopefully understand the pathogen."
Stella will be back to our lab soon as the position is temporary and part of the BBSRC DTP White Rose program for Professional Internships for PhD students known as PIPs. We are all very proud of her! Congratulations Stella and thank you for all your hard work in these very tough times.
Jaime and Simon's collaboration with a leading research group on pulmonary hypertension in the Medical School has led to a new publication. They found that pulmonary arterial hypertension could be linked to imbalances in the population of polarised macrophages. This was revealed by biochemical and morphological examination of different types of macrophages in both in vivo and in vitro settings.
To find out more about this work, please click on the following link:
11 November 2020
Our resident physicist, Dr James Bradford, had successfully defended his thesis on modelling actin polymerisation and phagocytosis. Such a remarkable feat to figure out some of actin's secrets! We're looking forward for a proper celebration when everything is back to normal.
After the delays due to COVID, we can now say that we are planning the big move to our new lab!
We will be sharing with The Elks lab! It will have dedicated spaces to the microscopy equipment, an infection room and a huge office space. It also has wonderful views over Firth Court. We are excited to move in!
We also had our first socially distanced lab meeting since the start of the pandemic! Its been a while since everyone in the lab had seen each other, but we all enjoyed a nice chilly day at Western Park catching up!
Hopefully we'll be able to have meetings in the new lab soon!
Fungal Disease Awareness Week 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced 21st to 25th of September 2020 as the Fungal Disease Awareness Week . The CDC website under the “Think Fungus” headline highlights key publications with insights on fungal disease. We are using this opportunity to discuss the impact of the fungal pathogens studied by the Johnston group in human disease.
The first pathogen we are working on is Candida albicans. Candida is a fungal pathogen that usually lives and co-exists with the human host, however in incidences where the host is weak or has damage to the skin or organs like the gut the fungus gets the chance to switch into an unfriendly pathogen. The disease caused by Candida is called Candidiasis, this is a big group of diseases which can be mild to dangerous depending on the infection. Candidiasis occurs in areas with mucus such as in the vagina and the mouth it is also more commonly named as thrush. In more severe cases it can grow on catheters and can even enter the bloodstream. Bloodstream entry is the most severe cause of Candidiasis. According to statistics from the CDC over 3.6 million US dollars per year are spent to treat Candidiasis which indicates how common this disease can be.
Candida albicans - depending on the host environment - can also prevent or encourage bacterial infections. Candida is an important group of fungal pathogens that sometimes is not very well known by the media because of the varying severity of disease however it is quite critical as there is resistance arising to antifungals and in very ill patients it can even be the leading cause of death.
The second infection we work on is cryptococcosis. Cryptococcosis is mostly caused by Cryptococcus neoformans, or in some cases, by Cryptococcus gattii. Cryptococcus, like Candida, is a kind of yeast that can also cause disease. The majority of people who develop cryptococcosis have a poorly-functioning immune system; for example, those with HIV/AIDS, with certain blood cancers or those taking immune-suppressing medications. Cryptococcus lives in the natural environment, meaning that the source of infection can be certain tree species, or even pigeon poo. We know that it’s inhaled, so infection starts in the lungs. From there, Cryptococcus manages to escape the lungs and infects different organs around the body - the most severe form of which is called cryptococcal meningitis, when it infects the brain. Cryptococcal meningitis is difficult to treat, often difficult to diagnose and nearly uniformly fatal. Cryptococcal meningitis causes hundreds of thousands of deaths every year, and is responsible for 15% of HIV/AIDS-related deaths. Even if you are lucky enough to survive this devastating infection, it’s likely that after the infection, you’ll suffer from its effects for years afterwards.
Click here to learn more!