Accelerating Breakthrough Discoveries into Medicines

2015 Oxford-Harrington Scholars

Claudia Monaco, MD, PhD, FESC

Claudia Monaco, MD, PhD, FESC

Claudia Monaco, MD, PhD, FESC

Professor Monaco has dedicated her career to the definition of new therapeutic targets for CVD within the area of inflammatory signaling.

Claudia Monaco, MD, PhD, FESC is a Professor of Cardiovascular Inflammation at the University of Oxford.

Using a unique approach to test efficacy in human atherosclerosis in the preclinical phase. She established a model to study signaling pathways in cells isolated from human atherosclerotic tissue. Atheroma cells produce a variety of inflammatory factors in the absence of extrinsic stimulation.

Albeit a simplistic model, it enables Professor Monaco to dissect the role of individual genes using antibodies, soluble receptors, small molecule compounds, or gene transfer. Using the atheroma cell culture and complementary murine models, her team has demonstrated that the dysregulated increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in human plaques is dependent on innate immune signaling initiated by the extracellular membrane – bound Toll-like Receptor (TLR)-2. Unexpectedly they also demonstrated that the endosomal Toll-like receptors such as TLR3 and TLR7 mediate atheroprotection.

Professor Monaco’s continued research aims to exploit her team’s knowledge of the ability of TLRs to modulate atherosclerosis development to develop novel therapeutics for CVD by blocking pro-atherogenic TLRs and their activators or developing activators of the antiatherogenic TLRs for clinical use.

Professor Claudia Monaco attended Classical studies followed by Medical School at the prestigious Catholic University of Rome, Italy. Professor Monaco trained as a Cardiologist in Rome, where she was involved in the first studies to identify a cytokine-dependent systemic inflammatory response in patients with acute coronary syndromes. She later relocated to Imperial College London, where she completed her PhD studies in 2001.

Learn about Dr. Monaco's journey as a Oxford-Harrington Scholar in her interview, ‘Tackling Translation – How Being an Oxford Harrington Scholar has Enhanced My Research.’ Read more here.

Helen McShane, MD, PhD, FRCP

Helen McShane, FRCP PhD. Copyright (c) Oxford University Images / John Cairns Photography -- All rights reserved.

Helen McShane. Copyright (c) Oxford University Images / John Cairns Photography – All rights reserved

Professor McShane is working to develop an improved vaccine to prevent and treat the tuberculosis virus.

Helen McShane, MD, PhD, FRCP is a Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford.

Professor McShane and her TB Vaccine Research Group at Oxford University are working on a novel approach for TB vaccine delivery, administering the vaccine directly to the respiratory mucosa. With the first clinical trial for this route of delivery completed using MVA85A, a candidate TB vaccine developed at Oxford, the results of this trial look very promising.

This route of immunization now needs to be evaluated in a clinical trial in a TB high burden country. However, demonstrating the safety of this route of immunization in subjects with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection is critical before a trial in a TB high burden country can be conducted to allay speculation that administration could lead to the development of immunopathology at the site of latent M.tb infection.

Professor McShane’s project aims to conduct a randomized, controlled, phase one clinical trial to compare the safety and immunogenicity of aerosolised and intramuscular MVA85A in healthy M.tb latently infected adult subjects in the UK. If successful, this will pave the way for further evaluation of this route of immunization in TB high burden countries.

Professor McShane earned her BSc and MD at the University of London. In 1997 she was awarded an MRC Clinical Training Fellowship to undertake a PhD with Adrian Hill in Oxford, and she was later awarded a PhD from University of London. Professor McShane is a Wellcome Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Honorary Consultant physician in HIV medicine and an Academic Foundation Programme Lead. She also chairs the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative Advisory Committee.