I received my undergraduate degree in Immunology from Edinburgh, followed by my PhD from Dundee. Since then, I have continued working alongside Doreen Cantrell in Dundee.  My research aims to interrogate how nutrient availability influences T cell function. I use an interdisciplinary approach combining biochemistry, proteomics, metabolomics and in vivo mouse immunology, as well as novel single cell technologies, to probe how nutrient bio-availability controls immune responses. I believe that this fundamental, basic research will provide new angles on how to manipulate T cell immune responses for therapeutic responses.

Research profile

Nutrient transport, immunometabolism and T cell immunology

One of my major contributions to the field is the demonstration of the precise regulation of amino transporter expression in T cells, and other immune cells, and how this is important for immune cell participation in immune responses (2023 Sci Sig; 2023 J.Exp. Med; 2020 Elife; 2019 Elife; Nat Commun. 2018; Leukemia 2017; 2013 Nat Imm).

In particular, expression of amino acid transporter SLC7A5 is critical for methionine uptake in activated T cells; required for many fundamental cellular processes (2019 Elife). 

Further work highlights the interdependency of amino acid transporter expression and the transcription factor c-Myc; c-Myc protein levels are only sustained in T cells that have high rates of

amino acid uptake, and a fundamental role for activation-induced c-Myc expression in T cells is driving the expression of amino acid transporters. This is pivotal for both enabling and sustaining bioenergetic and biosynthetic programs upon T cell activation  (2015 EMBO; 2020 Elife).

Main research questions:

  • How does regulation and expression of nutrient transporters and/or extracellular nutrient availability affect the activation, differentiation and function of T lymphocytes. 
  • How does nutrient availability impact the immune response? 

(Research profile continued)

Monitoring nutrient transport at the single cell level

The gold standard for nutrient uptake assays is measuring transport of radiolabelled substrates. Understandably this can be problematic in many immunology studies, where we are often looking at small populations, limiting samples or complex mixed populations. It has been a long-standing project to develop sensitive, single cell assays to measure specific nutrient uptake.

We have developed robust flow cytometry based assays which can be used to monitor the uptake capacity of System L amino acid transporters (eg SLC7A5) and more recently a CLICK-CHEMISTRY based approach to monitor SLC1A5 mediated transport (e.g. glutamine uptake). More assays for different transporters and substrates are in the pipe-line… (2018 Nat Commun. ; 2023 Cell Rep).


Publications List

Positions and training

Senior Research Associate, Cantrell Lab, Department of Cell Signalling and Immunology, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, U.K.


Co-Chair of the BSI Immunometabolism Affinity Group  Twitter/X:@BSI_Immunomet

Committee member of IMF@Global

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