Andrew MacDonald’s Lab

The Institute of Immunology & Infection Research

School of Biological Sciences

The University of Edinburgh

The big question that drives the research in my lab is – how do pathogens initiate and direct the host immune response?

Our research is aimed at trying to unravel the sequence of immunological events that occur after pathogens interact with the innate immune system, and the downstream influence of these events on the ensuing adaptive immune response. Dendritic cells (DCs) are a specialised type of antigen (Ag) presenting cell that play a decisive role in activation, polarisation, and even regulation of the immune system. This element of control is critical since the consequences of mounting an inappropriate immune response against a pathogen can be extremely damaging to the host.  For example, although the inflammatory response is a vital component of host defence, excessive inflammation can be unwanted, harmful or even fatal (as in allergy, arthritis, graft rejection or septic shock). Thus, more specifically, our work is focused on trying to understand the role of DCs in initiating and directing the adaptive immune response to pathogens, with the main focus of our research being the helminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni, the Gram+ bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, and the Gram− bacterium Salmonella typhimurium.


The lab will be relocating to Manchester from May this year, to be part of the exciting new Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR). MCCIR is a unique partnership between academia and industry, including two major pharmaceutical companies (GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneka), establishing a world-leading centre for basic and translational research in inflammation and inflammatory disease.