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Julia Salafranca Gomez

DPhil student

Following my MSci in Immunology at the University of Glasgow, I joined the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in 2021. My background consists of translational research of rheumatic diseases, as highlighted by my masters and honours projects.

I carried out my master's placement at the VIB Insititute - University of Gent, where I joined Professor Dirk Elewaut’s team for eleven months to study the gut-joint axis in spondyloarthritis (SpA) under the supervision of Dr Koen Venken. My main aims were to explore the role of innate-like T cells in the pathology of SpA using both human samples and animal models, and the successful optimization of a mouse model that better mimicked the IL-23/IL-17 axis in SpA. My Honours project, under the supervision of Professor Carl Goodyear, aimed to improve the clinical diagnosis of patients with septic arthritis. To do so, I carried out a bioinformatics analysis of the blood transcriptome from patient samples with septic arthritis, gout, or reactive arthritis.

Funded by the Kennedy Trust Prize Studentship I will focus on the molecular regulation of neutrophils during inflammation, more specifically in rheumatoid arthritis. Recent studies have shown that neutrophils are more complex than originally anticipated and present heterogeneity in disease. Furthermore, neutrophils contribute to joint inflammation and damage in rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, I will work with both mouse models of arthritis and human samples to study neutrophil differentiation and the transcription factors involved in this process to identify new therapeutic targets.

In addition, I am part of the Research into Inflammatory Arthritis Centre Versus Arthritis (RACE) program. Thanks to the partnership between the Glasgow, Oxford, Birmingham, and Newcastle universities, I will be collaborating with the Glasgow team during my DPhil. 

Finally, I am also very interested in Patient and Public Engagement and Involvement (PPIE). As part of the Brilliant Club, I will be delivering tutorials based on my research topic to support the access into highly competitive universities of less advantaged students.