Fellow Profile: Matt Hepworth

We would like to introduce the Lister community to one of our 2018 Fellows, Dr. Matt Hepworth. Dr. Hepworth is a Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the University of Manchester, and was awarded a Lister research prize in this year’s cohort.

His research interests involve studying aspects of the innate immune pathways that are used to regulate inflammation at mucosal barrier tissue sites in the human body, such as the intestine and the lung.

Dr. Hepworth’s work looks at how biological processes that are carried out at such sites can be better understood, in particular to suppress inappropriate immune responses to treat aspects of chronic inflammatory diseases. Such diseases include common issues such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and asthma that affect many people around the world.

In the human body our innate immune system maintains regular tissue function and integrity (which is known as homeostasis) in a number of ways. Dr. Hepworth and his team are attempting to better understand and delineate the mechanisms used by the innate immune systems of healthy individuals to maintain this tissue homeostasis, and to understand what happens when the immune system becomes maladapted in patients with inflammatory diseases, in order to contribute to the development of new therapies.

An example microscopy image of fluorescently labelled immune cells in a lymph node from Dr. Hepworth’s laboratory.

An example microscopy image of fluorescently labelled immune cells in a lymph node from Dr. Hepworth’s laboratory.

In this work Dr. Hepworth deploys both basic and translational approaches to the research. With the Lister Prize Dr. Hepworth is aiming to dissect the molecular machinery that determines whether an immune cell performs beneficial or disease-driving functions, work that is hoped will identify new drug targets for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.

Dr. Hepworth acquired a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from the University of Manchester, which included a year working at the Mayo Clinic in the USA. He also acquired his PhD at Manchester, studying immunity to helminth infections in the intestine. Following a postdoctoral position at the Humboldt University in Berlin, he further went on to work at two institutions in the USA; the University of Pennsylvania and Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City where he developed his current research interests in innate lymphoid cells and mucosal immunology.

We are very pleased to support Dr. Hepworth’s work and proud to have him as a Fellow of the Institute – as he says;

“The Lister Prize will open new doors for research in my lab. The flexible funding that comes with the award provides the freedom to take risks and pursue exciting, innovative new directions in our work. Importantly the chance to network with Lister alumni will provide new insights and perspectives from world-renowned experts and help us to develop multidisciplinary approaches with the potential to alter our understanding of how the immune system functions.”

To find out more about our research funding please click here.