Alun is final year DPhil student on the Wellcome Trust Infection, Immunology, and Translational Medicine (IITM) doctoral programme. He started his journey into science doing a BSc Biomedical Sciences at UCL, from which he transferred to a BSc in Infection and Immunology for his final year. In this year he focussed his interests in infectious diseases onto virology, carrying out a dissertation project in the Tower’s lab working on new drug therapies for HIV-1 aiming to block interactions with host co-factors.
It was in the Tower’s lab that he first encountered and developed an interest in the Cyclophilins, a family of proteins with unclear functions and often found to interact with viruses. He wanted to see if they may be involved in the innate/antiviral immune response, but to achieve this he needed to knock out each family member. This ultimately led him to the James lab, where using their stem cell derived macrophages he has been able to explore the role of Cyclophilins in innate immunity and viral infections. During the course of his PhD, fortuitous observations have led him away from virology (much to his own disappointment) and he has become keenly interested in macrophage function and regulation in disease conditions