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Gurpreet Bharj

DPhil Student

I completed my BSs (hons) in Biomedical Sciences from Oxford Brookes University. Here, I completed a four-month research project at the Division of Structural Biology as a part of my degree, purifying virus-like particles which could eventually be used for vaccine development. Following my BSc, I completed my MSc (DIC) in Molecular Medicine from Imperial College London. Prior to starting my DPhil, I took up an internship at Ipsen Ltd, where I was conducting research on using botulinum neurotoxins for drug discovery.

Research Interests

My PhD project is funded by Medical Research Council (MRC). My project focuses on studying the interaction of C-reactive protein (CRP) with Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) in Otitis Media (OM). OM is inflammation of the middle ear (ME), and it is one of the main causes of GP visits during childhood. NTHi is a common commensal bacterium found in the nasopharynx of humans but is also an important aetiological agent of disease such as OM and exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The complex interactions between the bacterium and the host immune system determine the survival or elimination of the bacteria and the onset and progress of disease; CRP can be fundamental to the existence of NTHi in the host. The project will investigate in vitro the binding and function of the CRP molecule against NTHi using complement and immune cells. We will coordinate this with in vivo  infection studies in an established mouse model of OM and NTHi infection. We will utilise the high resolution microscopy facilities available through the RCaH and OCTOPUS at the central laser facility to visualise and obtain information on the interaction of CRP with the NTHi surface. Together these studies will provide fundamental insight into immune molecule binding and its biological consequence for this important human pathogen.