Amy Napier | DPhil Student

My DPhil project explores SARS-CoV-2 infection of epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages. Prior to starting my DPhil in 2020, I gained a BSc in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Bath and spent three years in industry at Cancer Research UK and AstraZeneca.

I was on the AstraZeneca R&D Graduate programme 2020-22. My highlights of this scheme were the use of primary air-liquid interface models to elucidate the innate lymphoid cell response to rhinovirus and influenza infection; and the opportunity to conduct novel research into the impact of egg-based manufacture on glycosylation of AstraZeneca’s FluMist® vaccine.

This passion for viral and vaccine immunology lead me to the James lab, where I am exploring the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and alveolar macrophages. I’m excited by the opportunity to use the iPSC-derived macrophages developed in the James and Lillian Martin Centre for this research, because these cells are able to better functionally simulate the tissue resident alveolar macrophages in the lung, compared with monocyte-derived cells which are a more commonly used cell model. I am interested to explore why SARS-CoV-2 is unable to sustain infection in alveolar macrophages and the subsequent role that these cells play in exacerbating COVID-19 disease.