Having gained a PhD in Biochemistry in 2001 from the University of Kent, Fiona joined Imperial College London as a postdoc working with Prof. Dan Davis studying the spatiotemporal localization of proteins at the human Natural Killer immune synapse to determine functional outcomes of NK cell surveillance. She then joined Dr. Richard Williams' lab at the Kennedy Institute in 2006 to study translational immunology exploiting experimental models of rheumatoid arthritis. Specifically, she was the first to identify novel immunoregulatory functions of TNFR2 expressing regulatory T cells in murine arthritis. In 2012, working with Prof. Sir Marc Feldmann, she was appointed to the role of team leader for the Novo Nordisk-KIR clinical research satellite, working on target validation and mechanism of action studies in rheumatoid arthritis. Since March 2015, she has been group leader for the Oxford Tissue Platform within the ULTRA-DD consortium (IMI funded research initiative) at the KIR in collaboration with the Structural Genomics Consortium, which aims to study epigenetic modifications in both Dupuytren's disease (with Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal) and Spondyloarthritis patients (with Prof. Paul Bowness).
The objective of the Oxford Tissue Platform is to build robust assays from patients cells and tissue, retaining where possible the native characteristics and phenotype of intact pathology. Focussing specifically on two diverse musculoskelatal diseases, Ankylosing Spondlyitis (AS) and Dupuytren’s Disease (local hand fibrosis), we study disease mechanisms for target identification through phenotypic screening of well-annotated libraries of small molecule inhibitors and function blocking antibodies.
Other interests include investigating the role of natural killer cells in AS (joint project with Nikki Horwood, KIR) and the immunoregulatory function of TNFR2 in RA (with Richard Williams, KIR).