Immune Regulation Laboratory


Professor Oliver Garden’s laboratory, historically based at the Camden Campus of the Royal Veterinary College and now at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, specializes in cellular immunology, with a specific expertise in regulatory T cell (Treg) and myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) biology. Oliver started his laboratory with the aid of a Wellcome Trust Advanced Fellowship in 2001 within the Department of Immunology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, following post-doctoral training at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and a Residency in Small Animal Internal Medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Successful BSc, MSc and PhD projects

To date, six PhD students, five BSc students and 14 MSc students have successfully graduated following projects carried out within Oliver’s laboratory. Of the MSc students, ten gained Distinctions for their projects and all but two have completed – or are currently completing – successful PhD projects. Of the PhD students, all completed their theses within three or four years (depending on the programme) and have carved out successful careers in research, medical practice or (in one case) patent law.

The laboratory has also employed two Research Technicians, who both moved on to prestigious Research Associate posts – one at King’s College London and the other at University College London – following the conclusion of their contracts, and one postdoctoral Fellow (Dr Dammy Pinheiro), who has moved on to a senior postdoctoral post within the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading.

The laboratory is currently home to two PhD students, one of whom (Julia Ying Wu) is studying the role of lymphoid and myeloid regulatory cells in canine diffuse large cell B cell lymphoma and the other of whom (Michael Denyer) is studying the evolutionary phylogeny of immune tolerance in collaboration with Dr Adrian Shepherd at Birkbeck; Michael has already submitted his first manuscript for publication, so has got off to a flying start! The laboratory hosts from one to three undergraduate or postgraduate students – undertaking BSc, BVetMed or MSc degrees – at any one time. We are also delighted to announce the recruitment of Dr Michelle Goulart, who has joined the laboratory from the University of Oregon as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Cancer Immunology, and are proud to be collaborating with Dr Dammy Pinheiro, a Visiting Scientist from the University of Reading, who completed her PhD and a postdoctoral Fellowship in Oliver's laboratory.

Key expertise and funding

Key techniques for which Oliver’s laboratory has specific expertise include T cell culture, including sophisticated Treg assays in vitro; multi-colour analytical flow cytometry; ELISAs and enhanced electrochemiluminescent assays of a number of Th1 and Th2 cytokines; and molecular biological techniques, including PCR, cloning and transduction of constructs into mammalian cells.

Total extra-mural grant income since 2003 has been ≈ £1.6m, including industrial sources, the Medical Research Council, Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC), European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ECVIM), Italian Ministry of Health, American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC), Wellcome Trust, and Petplan Charitable Trust (PPCT). Current funding includes grants from the PPCT and various commercial sponsors.

Delivering for industry

Oliver’s laboratory has successfully worked with six major industrial partners over the past eight years, consistently delivering on-time and within budget – for both product-orientated projects and blue-sky research. The laboratory has a dynamic, forward-looking, innovative and committed work ethic – with an unquestionable dedication to its team members, to its academic funders and to its industrial partners.

The biennial Treg/Th Cell Symposium

Oliver has been the coordinator for a biennial series of one-day symposia "Treg: Regulatory T Cells and T Helper Cells", the first one of which (March 2012) focused on ontogeny, plasticity and clinical applications. See the Proceedings notes for the first of these exciting events, published in Immunology. These meetings have been organised with the help of the RVC Continuing Professional Development Unit. Six world-class speakers came to the RVC to share their research findings in March of 2012, supported by three short oral communications and a number of poster presentations by PhD students and post-doctoral scientists.

The second of these exciting symposia was held at the RVC on 25th April 2014. Speakers included Professors Joachim Schultze, Awen Gallimore, Lucy Walker and Anne Cooke, and Drs Jeff Davies and Megan MacLeod. Please see "Treg: Regulatory T Cells and T Helper Cells" for details. Proceedings notes were published in Immunology, as well as a meeting review by Julia Wu in Immunology News.

Research awards

Two of Oliver's publications have been recognised by prestigious international awards:

  1. His review of systemic inflammatory response syndrome and sepsis, for which the first-named author is Dan Lewis, won an award for being one of the top five most downloaded publications in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2013, being downloaded a total of 6,372 times in this time period.
  2. His study of duodenal lesions in diet-responsive chronic enteropathy, for which the first-named author is David Walker, won a European Emesis Council / European Society of Comparative Gastroenterology award for the best gastrointestinal publication from a European research group in 2013.