Our Lab

Pears Building, UCL


We are pleased to be working alongside colleagues in the new state-of-the-art Pears Building, Institute of Immunity & Transplantation, UCL.

Since opening in Summer 2021, the IIT has brought together world leading scientists, academic clinicians, and clinical trial specialists, with the primary aim of achieving the ambitious goal of becoming an international centre of excellence for immunology research to directly improve human health.

Our home in the IIT delivers spacious, light, and airy architecturally intriguing laboratory space and open plan, collaborative office space. The Institute provides productive partnerships between basic research and the wealth of clinical specimens from the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust due to its location and the drive of the people involved.

Something important to me, the cutting-edge laboratories have been specifically designed to not only facilitate high impact immunological research but to be environmentally friendly. The building itself has been fitted with solar panels to generate electricity for its running and a ‘brown’ roof to provide habitats for local wildlife.

Pears Building

Our Research

The liver is our largest internal organ that acts as a central hub for many physiological processes. Accordingly, immune responses within the liver are tightly controlled to prevent unnecessary organ damage. Although the liver has an unrivalled ability to regenerate when injured, persistent injury or inflammation can lead to the build-up of scar tissue as it attempts to repair. The build-up of such scar tissue (largely made up of extracellular matrix proteins) can results in liver dysfunction and the development of fibrosis/cirrhosis. But why do we care? Since 2018, liver fibrosis (and associated chronic liver disease) features in the top ten causes of premature death in the UK and kills individuals ~19 years younger than cancer or heart disease.

The liver is home to a number of 'residents', that provide specialised immune-surveillance and protection. We recently described a population of long-lived, tissue-resident T cells that are equipped with the necessary armoury to control hepatotropic infections, and showed that they can adapt phenotypically and functionally depending on cues from their microenvironment.

Our Lab Royal Free FACS Machine

In addition, the liver has a unique population of stromal cells, that when exposed to chronic injury become the master regulators of fibrosis. It is these overactivated stromal cells that differentiate into myofibroblasts that then produce excessive amounts of extracellular matrix proteins, causing the liver to increase in stiffness and functionality to ultimately deteriorate.

Here in the Pallett lab we are interested in understanding how tissue-resident T cells and the underlying stromal cells ‘co-operate and communicate’ in the setting of fibrosis. We are particularly focussing on how these ‘local intrahepatic cells’ interact in both the healthy and diseased human liver, asking questions such as “can tissue-resident T cell contribute to tissue damage and/or tissue repair?” and “whether we can we harness the pathways involved to develop improved treatments for patients?”.

Our Team

Laura Pallett

Principal Investigator

Laura Pallett

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

I have a degree in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Manchester (UK) and a PhD from UCL in Viral Immunology. I love all things liver immunology, resident T cells and immunometabolism. I can’t let go though of topics I have previously worked on, so still like to stay in touch with the latest in HBV immunology and general concepts in T cell dysfunction.

Guilty Pleasure: Coronation Street (don’t judge me too much!)

George Finney

Postdoctoral Researcher

George Finney

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER

I have degrees in Cell Biology from the University of Stirling, and in Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases from the University of Glasgow. I've recently gained a PhD in viral immunology from the University of Glasgow. Within the field of lung immunology, I'm fascinated by memory T cells, immune-stromal cell communication and how these concepts link together. From the lung to the liver, I'm all about how the tissue microenvironment shapes T cells.

Guilty Pleasure - Taking pictures of food - I just can't help myself!

Vacancy

Research Technician

Vacancy

RESEARCH TECHNICIAN

Are you interested in learning new skills and supporting our research on various aspects of liver immunology?

Apply here!

Resources

Data Science for Immunologists

As well as our laboratory research, I also have a huge passion for data analytics and data science. With data being generated at ever greater volume and fidelity, advanced analytic techniques are becoming more and more important in immunological research.

With this in mind, I co-authored a book in 2018 called "Data Science for Immunologists", aimed at medical researchers and immunologists introducing key concepts in programming, statistics and machine learning.

Read more about Data Science for Immunologists here

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