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Infection and Immunity Research Group (IIRG)

uel bioscience students

About us

Research within the Infection and Immunity group explores the interactive role between the host immune response and pathogen thereby elucidating mechanisms that may play a role in causing disease pathologies. Our multidisciplinary team provides a broad mixture of skills enabling us to synergistically deliver our research aims. Our group provides a forum supporting a broad range of related research areas recognised both nationally and internationally. This in turn has resulted in several fruitful collaborative links with prestigious institutions around the globe. Through working as a research-oriented group, we provide a scientifically stimulating environment to enhance and benefit the experience of our post-graduate research students.

 - Our focus is primarily elucidation of the mechanisms that underpin the development of the immune system and the function of the immune response at both cellular and acellular levels.

 - Investigation of potential virulence factors and other mechanisms utilised by pathogens compared to their less virulent environmental counterparts.

 - Assessment of interactions between host and pathogens that might influence clinical consequences or likelihood of infection.


The group is co-ordinated by Sally Cutler with the following staff members actively contributing: Stefano Casalotti; David Guiliano; David Rowley; Claudio Scotti; Lesley Smyth; Abdessamad Ababou; Amrutha Chilumuri; Eva Galante; Hanieh Khalili; Hermine Mkrtchyan; Jose Saldana; Maria Teresa Esposito; Michael Seed; Natividad Garrido Mesa; Alessia Taccogna; Andy Kumar; Charlotte Evans; Elisa Salis; Monica Sen; Irada Asadova; Martina Neville; Rory Cave; Sinosha Paralikar; Sivanjaa Manoj.

Dr Stefano Casalotti
Dr Stefano Casalotti
Dr Stefano Casalotti
Dr Stefano Casalotti
Dr Stefano Casalotti

Recent publications

  • Cutler, S.J., Abdissa, A., Adamu, H., Tolosa, T., Gashaw, A. (2012) Bartonella in Ethiopian lice. Comparative Immunology, Microbiology & Infectious Diseases 35: 17-21.
  • Cutler, S.J., Abdissa, A., Adamu, H., Tolosa, T., Gashaw, A. 2012 Borrelia in Ethiopian ticks ticks. Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases 3: 14-17.
  • Pader, V., Nikitorowicz-Buniak, J. Abdissa, A., Adamu, H., Tolosa, T., Gashaw, A. Cutler, S.J. Rickettsia hoogstraalii in Ethiopian Argas persicus ticks. Ticks & Tick-Borne Diseases in press.
  • Cutler, S.J. Frangoulidis D. (2012) Coxiella burnetii – Q fever. BSL3 and BSL4 Agents: Epidemiology, Microbiology and Practical Guidelines. Editors Mandy Elschner, Sally Cutler, Manfred Weidman and Patrick Butaye Wiley-VCH.
  • Alice N. Maina; Stephanie Speck; Eva Spitalska; Rudolf Toman; Gerhard Dobler; Sally J. Cutler (2012) Rickettsiosis- Rickettsia species. BSL3 and BSL4 Agents: Epidemiology, Microbiology and Practical Guidelines. Editors Mandy Elschner, Sally Cutler, Manfred Weidman and Patrick Butaye Wiley-VCH.
  • Sally J. Cutler, Michel S. Zygmunt & Bruno Garin-Bastuji (2012) Brucellosis – Brucella species. BSL3 and BSL4 Agents: Epidemiology, Microbiology and Practical Guidelines. Editors Mandy Elschner, Sally Cutler, Manfred Weidman and Patrick Butaye Wiley-VCH.
  • Knobel DL, Maina AN, Cutler SJ, Ogola E, Feikin DR, Cleaveland S, Junghae M, Halliday JEB, Breiman RF, Njenga MK. Coxiella burnetii in humans, animals and ticks in Kenya. Am J Trop Med & Hyg 2012 in press.
  • Haitham E, Gimenez G, Robert C, Cutler SJ, Raoult D, Drancourt M. Complete genome sequence of Borrelia crocidurae. J Bacteriol in press April 2012.
  • Haitham E, Gimenez G, Sokhna C, Barker SC, Cutler SJ, Raoult D, Drancourt M. Multispacer sequence typing relapsing fever borreliae in Africa. PLoS Neglected Diseases 2012 in press.
  • Lau CI*, Outram SV*, Saldaña JI, Furmanski AL, Dessens JT, Crompton T. Regulation of murine normal and stress-induced erythropoiesis by Desert Hedgehog (Dhh). Blood. 2012 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print] * equal contribution.
  • Cutler, S.J., Rinky, I.J., Bonilla, E.M. 2011 Does RecA have a role in Borrelia recurrentis? Clinical Microbiology & Infection 17 (2) 195-7.
  • Palma M, Lopes de Carvalho I, Figueiredo, M, Amaro, F, Boinas F, Cutler SJ, Núncio MS. 2011. Borrelia hispanica in Ornithodoros erraticus, Portugal. Clinical Microbiology & Infection. 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2011.03623.x.
  • Cutler, S. (2011) Spirochaetes: past lessons to future directions. Clinical Microbiology & Infection 17 (4) 481-3.
  • Antoniou A. N., Guiliano D. B., Lenart I., Burn G. and Powis S. (2011) The redox status of HLA-B27 and the influence on biosynthesis Antioxidants and Redox Signalling Aug 1;15(3):669-84
  • Lenart I., Guiliano D. B. , Burn G., Campbell E.C., Morley K.D., Fussell H., Powis S. and Antoniou A. N. (2011) The MHC Class I Heavy Chain Structurally Conserved Cysteines 101 and 164 Participate in HLA-B27 Dimer Formation. Antioxidants and Redox Signalling 2011 Sep 15 [Epub ahead of print]
  • Antoniou A.N., Lenart I., Guiliano, D.B. (2011) Pathogenicity of Misfolded and Dimeric HLA-B27 Molecules International Journal Rheumatology ;2011:486856. Epub 2011
  • Cutler, S.J. (2010) Relapsing Fever – A forgotten disease revealed. Journal for Applied Microbiology 108: 1115-1122.
  • Cutler SJ, Fooks AR, van der Poel WHM. (2010) Public health threat of new, reemerging, and neglected zoonoses in the industrialized world. Emerg Infect Dis 16 (1) 1-7.
  • Cutler, S.J. Bonilla, E.M., Singh, R. 2010 Insights into the Population Structure of East African Relapsing Fever Borrelia. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 16 (7) 1076-1080.
  • Grosskinsky, S. Schott, M., Brenner, C., Cutler, S.J., Simon, M.M. Wallich, R. 2010 Human complement regulators C4b-binding protein and C1 esterase inhibitor interact with a novel outer surface protein of Borrelia recurrentis. PLoS Neglected Diseases 4(6): e698.
  • Antoniou A.N., Lenart I., Guiliano, D.B. and Powis S.J. (2010) Antigen processing and presentation by MHC I, II, and non-classical molecules, Principles in Vaccinology
  • Drakopoulou E*, Outram SV, Rowbotham NJ, Ross SE, Furmanski AL, Saldana JI, Hager-Theodorides AL, Crompton T. (2010) Non-redundant role for the transcription factor Gli1 at multiple stages of thymocyte development. Cell Cycle. 2010 Oct 15;9(20):4144-52. * Equal contribution.
  • Cutler, S.J. (2009) Myths, legends and realities of relapsing fever borreliosis. Clinical Microbiology & Infection Editorial 15:395-6.
  • Cutler, S.J., Abdissa, A. & Trape, J-F. (2009) New Concepts for the Old Challenges of African Relapsing Fever Borreliosis. Clinical Microbiology & Infection.15: 400-6.
  • Grosskinsky S, Schott M, Brenner C, Cutler SJ, Kraiczy P, et al. 2009 Borrelia recurrentis Employs a Novel Multifunctional Surface Protein with Anti-Complement, Anti-Opsonic and Invasive Potential to Escape Innate Immunity. PLoS ONE 4(3): e4858. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004858
  • Outram, SV, Hager-Theodorides, AR*, Shah, DK*, Rowbotham, NJ, Drakopoulou, E, Ross, SE, Lanske, B, Dessens,JT and Crompton, T., (2009). Indian hedgehog (Ihh) both promotes and restricts thymocyte differentiation. *equal contribution. Blood. Mar 5;113(10):2217-28.
  • Rowbotham, NJ, Hager-Theodorides, AL, Furmanski, AL, Ross, SE, Drakopoulo, E, Outram, SV, Dessens. JT, and Crompton, T. (2009). Shh negatively regulates pre-TCR induced differentiation by a Gli2 dependent mechanism. Blood. 2009 May 21;113(21):5144-56. Epub 2009 Mar 9
  • Hager-Theodorides, AL, Furmanski, AL, Ross,S, Outram, SV, Rowbotham NJ and Crompton, T. The Gli3 transcription factor, expressed in the thymus stroma, controls thymocyte negative selection via hedgehog dependent and independent mechanisms.J Immunol. 2009 Sep 1;183(5):3023-32. Epub 2009 Aug 10.
  • Guiliano, D.B. and Oksov, Y, (2009) Trichinella and the nurse cell “Intracellular niches of microbes” Edited by Schaible U.E. and Haas A. Wiley- VCH, Weinheim.
  • Guiliano, D.B., Oksov, Y, Lustigman S., Gounaris K., and Selkirk M.E. Characterisation of novel protein families secreted from the muscle stage larvae of Trichinella spiralis. (2009) Int. J. of Parasitology Apr;39(5):515-24.


  • Cutler, S. J..& Joanna Nikitorowicz-Buniak “Preliminary molecular characterisation of a Rickettsia species present in the soft tick Ornithodoros moubata” Medical Biodefence Conference,2009, Munich, Germany 21st-23rd October 2009.
  • Cutler, S.J. “Dilemmas in Rickettsial diagnostics” Seminar Walter Reed, Kisumu, Kenya, 25th September 2009.
  • Cutler, S.J. “Relapsing fever – forgotten not gone” SfAM Summer meeting, Manchester 6th-8th July 2009
  • Cutler, S.J. “Fresh air or is it? A tale of Q fever” IBMS congress 28th September 2009, Birmingham.
  • Guiliano, D.B. “HLA-B27 modulates Salmonella infection of epithelial cells”Spondyloarthritis Research and Treatment Network (SPARTAN) Houston, Texas, USA July 2009.
  • Guiliano, D.B. “Trichinella and the Nurse Cell: Making muscle a home” International Conference on Intracellular Niches of Microbes Borstel, Germany June 2009.
  • Guiliano, D.B. “Does HLA-B27 influence Gram-negative bacterial infection?” Windeyer Institute seminar series, University College London, London, UK April 2009.
  • Cutler, S.J. Once bitten twice shy – insights into arthropod-borne infections. London Regional IBMS meeting 19th October 2010, London, UK.
  • Cutler, S.J. Microbe 2010, Sheffield 24th-26th September 2010.
  • Cutler, S.J. New insights into Brucellosis and Relapsing Fever – a molecular perspective. Jimma University, Ethiopia 28th July 2010.
  • Cutler, S.J. Relapsing Fever – Forgotten disease revealed. Austrian Medical & Hygiene Association 17th-20th May 2010, Vienna, Austria.
  • Cutler, S. J. Fur, feather and fever – changing trends in zoonotic infections. Regional Virology Tribute Meeting, Norwich 13th March 2010.
  • Guiliano, D.B. “The folding status of HLA-B27 influences the outcome S. typhimurium infection” British Society for Immunology, Liverpool, UK December 2010.
  • Guiliano, D.B. “Salmonella Typhimurium infection activates and requires ER stress responses.” Infection and Immunity seminar series, University College London, London, UK June 2010.
  • Cutler, S.J. One Health Control of Bacterial Zoonoses. Infectious Disease and One Health: Vaccines and Therapeutics Meeting Emory University/CDC, Atlanta, USA 2nd February 2011.
  • Cutler, S.J. Thirty years in Medical Microbiology – what has changed? Wessex Applied Microbiology meeting 1st-3rd April 2011.
  • Cutler, S.J. Microbiological dangers of water sports. Institute of Biomedical Sciences Congress, Birmingham, 26th-28th September 2011.
  • Cutler, S.J. Emerging technologies and pathogen discovery. Institute of Biomedical Sciences Congress, Birmingham 26th-28th September 2011.


  • 2009 - Nuffield vacation studentship characterising a Rickettsial species found in the African soft tick Ornithodoros moubata. Funded £1500. [Cutler]
  • 2009 - Wellcome Trust Value in People Award (VIP). UCL/Wellcome Trust £26,474 [Outram]
  • 2009 - The regulation of early thymocyte development by morphogen signalling. BBSRC Standard proposal £512,000 [Outram]
  • 2006/2009 - Connexin composition in the inner ear. BBSRC £350,000 [Casalotti]
  • 2009 - Relapsing fever Borrelia in Ethiopian lice and ticks. SGM £2945 [Cutler]
  • 2011 - Changes in gene expression related to drug addiction. Start up research grant UEL £2,000 [Stefano Casalotti]
  • 2011 - Rickettsia in soft ticks. UEL Research Development Funding £5000 [Cutler]
  • 2011 - In situ typing of leptospirosis among UK wildlife. Nuffield vacation studentship. £1588 [Cutler]
  • 2011 - The role of Hedgehog signalling in T cell activation and proliferation. UEL start up grant £2000 [Outram]
  • 2011 - Virulence factors in Arcobacter. UEL Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme, £ 2,000 [Scotti]
  • 2011 - Do Leptospira spp. in environmental and wildlife pose a risk to human or veterinary health? UEL Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme £2000 [Cutler]
  • 2011 - Children’s Center for Immunology and Vaccines (CCIV) Pilot Award, Emory University in collaboration with T. Lamb (Emory) and J. Mead (CDC) $50,000 [Guiliano]
  • 2012 - Investigation into the role of Sonic Hedgehog in B cell development using microarray gene analysis. Early Career Research Award (ECRA) £9710 [Outram]
  • 2012 - Development of a novel probiotic vaccine delivery system. Early Career Research Award (ECRA) £8317 [Guiliano]
  • 2012 - UEL summer internship – Bartonella in head lice (2012 £2000) [Cutler]  
  • 2013 - SfAM Students into work (2013 £2500) [Cutler]  
  • 2013 - UEL School-funded PhD studentship; 3 years. [Cutler; Guiliano; Scotti]