As a member of the Council I hope to be able to influence the policies and future development of our great and ancient institution. I wish to ensure that it remains a self-governing community of scholars, teachers and researchers working to the highest international standard. Cambridge University is special because of its democratic governance and association with the Colleges. I would like to ensure that these aspects are preserved and developed in a form that is fit for the future.
My group in the Department of Biochemistry researches how microbial pathogens such as bacteria and viruses are recognized by the cells of the immune system. Humans have evolved complex and effective ways of fighting infections caused by these microbes but sometimes the immune system goes wrong. This can cause serious diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Our research aims to understand at a molecular level how the cells of the immune system are able to recognize microbes and the ways in which these cells respond to cause the familiar symptoms of an infection, such as fever and tiredness, and to generate specific antibodies that fight the invading microbes. We also study the way in which immune system cells respond to powerful toxins and allergens released by certain types of bacteria and viruses during an infection. This will provide an understanding of how the immune response is regulated and open up the possibility of new therapies for infectious and autoimmune disease, especially allergic asthma.