Dr Meriem Attaf

Meriem Attaf

Presently:Research Associate at Cardiff University (Department of Infection and Immunity), under the supervision of Prof Andy Sewell.

Project title: “Tracking and Dissection of The Early Life Human T-Cell Repertoire”. Recent estimates suggest that the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire consists of about 25 million receptors. Due to the complexity and size of the T cell repertoire, a comprehensive analysis of TCR diversity has, so far, never been undertaken. This study aims to adapt next generation sequencing in order to fully characterise the human TCR repertoire in early life and to understand the factors working to shape the complexity and diversity of the T cell pool.

2009-2013:PhD in Clinical Sciences (Immunology) at Imperial College London, under the supervision of Prof Julian Dyson, Transplantation Biology group.

Thesis title: “Functional Analysis of T Cells Lacking Germline-Encoded Complementarity-Determining Regions”. My PhD project focused on T cell development in the mouse and the molecular basis of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction in αβ T cells. The primary aims of this study were to dissect the role played by the variable regions in recognition of MHC during thymic selection and to determine whether αβ T cells are genetically biased towards recognition of MHC ligands.

Holland SJ, Bartók I, Attaf M et al. (2012), The T-cell receptor is not hardwired to engage MHC ligands, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 109(45):E3111-8.

2008-2009:MSc in Immunology at Imperial College London, with a 7-month project at Chelsea and Westminster hospital supervised by Dr Jocelyn Downey and Dr Nesrina Imami, HIV immune reconstitution group.

Project title: “T Cellular Signalling Events in Response to Cytokines and Viral Antigens during Treated HIV-1 Infection”. HIV-1 infection is associated with CD4+ T cell depletion and several immune defects including HIV-1-induced T cell anergy or exhaustion. The aim of my project was to characterise the signalling events in HIV-1-infected individuals that lead to immune dysfunction in the T cell compartment. The results of this study were subsequently published and presented at local and international conferences, including the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), for which I received a Young Investigator Award.

Downey JS, Attaf M, Moyle G; Gazzard B, Gotch F and Imami N (2012), T-cell signalling in antiretroviral-treated, aviraemic HIV-1-positive individuals is present in a raised state of basal activation that contributes to T-cell hyporesponsiveness, AIDS, 25(16):1981-6.