Immune cells within adipose tissue imaged using a confocal microscope

Microbes, Pathogens and Immunity

Immunology, Parasitology and Microbiology research

Members of this research group contribute to the cross-faculty research theme on Infectious Disease Transmission and Biology.

Research in the Microbes, Pathogens and Immunity theme aims to understand the biology of microbial parasites and viruses, and their interaction with the immune system and insect vectors . Areas of focus include their evolution, transmission, pathogenesis, and examining the function of the immune system in both health and disease. By examining the diverse and unusual biological mechanisms of microbes at the molecular level we seek to identify processes that can be targeted therapeutically or exploited for commercial applications.

The impact of our research will help to:

  • Develop new diagnoses, treatments and controls for neglected tropical diseases, metabolic diseases and immune disorders
  • Effectively survey and manage human diseases at local, national, and global levels
  • Understand the biology of economically relevant commensal and disease-associated microbes

Group members

Alexandre Benedetto

Dr Alexandre Benedetto

Senior Lecturer

Biomedical, Lancaster Intelligent, Robotic and Autonomous Systems Centre

Derek Gatherer

DSI - Health, Institute for Social Futures Fellow, ISF Fellows 2019/20

Gordon Hamilton

Professor Gordon Hamilton

Professor of Medical Entomology and Vector Control

Paul McKean

Professor Paul McKean

Head of Department, Professor of Molecular Parasitology

Muhammad Munir

Professor Muhammad Munir

Professor in Virology and Viral Zoonoses

Luigi Sedda

Dr Luigi Sedda

Senior Lecturer in Spatial Epidemiology

DSI - Health

Mick Urbaniak

Dr Mick Urbaniak

Senior Lecturer

DSI - Health, Microbes, Pathogens and Immunity

John Worthington

Dr John Worthington

Senior Lecturer in Infection Biology

Karen Wright

Dr Karen Wright

Senior Lecturer, Principal of Grizedale College

Victorio Bambini Junior

Dr Victorio Bambini Junior

Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience

Areas of focus

Some examples of our particular areas of interest and expertise are:

  • Environmental exposure to harmful micro-organisms and impact on animal and human populations
  • Evolution and spread of viruses
  • Host immune response towards pathogenic and commensal microbes
  • How Fat Associated Lymphoid Clusters orchestrate local immune responses within the body cavities
  • How microbes sense and respond to their host environment to ensure their survival, transmission and virulence
  • How gut microbes effect disease progression, recovery, and ageing
  • Mapping insect vector population dynamics, dispersion, and distribution along environmental gradients
  • Neglected tropical diseases and their insect vectors
  • Optimisation of disease and vector surveillance and control

Our facilities

We enjoy access to advanced research facilities including:

  • Biohazard Category III laboratory unit
  • Biohazard Category II laboratory spaces and insectaries
  • Advanced microscopy & bioimaging suite
  • Analytical facilities including spectrophotometers, liquid and gas chromatography and flow cytometry
  • Computing resources

Microbes and their insect vectors

We study many different organisms that are important models for disease or disease transmission including:

  • Archaea (Asgard species, Sulfolobus) and yeasts (Saccharomyces)
  • Insect vectors of medical and veterinary importance (Aedes & Anopheles mosquitoes, midges, sand flies, Tsetse flies)
  • Nematodes (Caenorhabditis, Trichuris)
  • Parasitic trypanosomes (Leishmania, Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma congolense, Trypanosoma cruzi)
  • Pathogenic and commensal gut microbes (Bifidobacteria, Enterococci, Escherichia, Mycobacteria, Pseudomonadaceae)
  • Protozoa (Amoebae, Tetrahymena)
  • Viruses of concern (Coronaviruses including SARS-COV-2, Ebola , HIV, Influenza)

Research opportunities

We actively collaborate with academics across different faculties at Lancaster University, as well as with industry and third sector stake holders. If you are interested in establishing a new collaboration please contact the researcher(s) with the most appropriate expertise from the list on this page.

There are opportunities to contribute to the research within the theme for undergraduate students through research projects and funded summer internships.