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Cillian Gartlan


I first got interested in immunology, the study of the immune system, after watching a documentary about parasites on the Discovery Channel as a teenager. At the end of the documentary it was briefly mentioned how someone’s immune system can learn over time to fight parasites and this kind of ‘immune training’ is the basis of vaccination. Since then I’ve been hooked!

I studied immunology at Trinity College Dublin for my undergraduate degree and I am now completing a DPhil at the University of Oxford, where I’m based at the Pandemic Sciences Institute and Centre for Human Genetics in Professor Miles Carroll’s group.

I’m interested in how the lungs respond to viral infections and vaccinations. Most of what we know about this comes from studies of the blood, rather than the lung itself, as it can be quite difficult to get access to lungs – for obvious reasons! With my project, I’m re-using samples from animal studies carried out at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that evaluated the first vaccine candidates in order to understand how the immune system in the lung responds to infection and how vaccination changes this response to protect us from lung damage.

I’ve been fortunate to be involved in a lot of public engagement during my time at Oxford and during my undergraduate degree in Dublin.