Ciara Loughrey

Ciara Loughrey
Fellows 2022-2023, Fellowship Programme
PhD candidate
Hull York Medical School/University of York


I am currently working on my PhD, investigating host-pathogen interactions in visceral leishmaniasis, which encompasses immunology, parasite biology, population ecology, molecular biology and mathematical modelling. I am interested in all aspects of biology, and I always look to apply concepts from different fields in my research through interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations. Having previously studied a range of subjects, including mathematics, physics, philosophy and politics at degree-level, I am always seeking new ways to approach problems from different angles, especially when working on global issues, such as neglected tropical diseases. I also have a strong interest in Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Justice (EDIJ), and I hope to use the Fellowship to explore EDIJ in data management and training.

My work

I completed an integrated Master’s in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Glasgow in 2020, and the same year I moved to the University of York to work on my PhD. My project is funded by the Hull York Medical School, and aims to increase understanding of the host-parasite interactions of the neglected tropical disease visceral leishmaniasis. The Leishmania parasite is spread via sand flies. Currently, it lacks effective prophylactic and treatment options, and I am using a population genetics approach, alongside imaging and immunological assays, to attempt to understand parasite dissemination in the host. I work with various types of data in my research, including sequences, images and quantitative immune markers; my modelling work also requires generating simulated datasets to analyse. Alongside my PhD, I work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant on various modules, from lab-based to ecology fieldwork to data analysis.

During my work placement year, I also worked for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on respiratory immunology and target validation. Other previous research projects I have worked on include mitochondrial biology in Toxoplasma gondii and the role of lamin in Hutchinson-Guilford Progeria Syndrome. I am also passionate about outreach, and was involved in developing a street theatre performance in collaboration with Surge Scotland and the Wellcome Trust, which aimed to educate the general public about Trypanosomes; I am currently working to develop a new theatre-based outreach project which I hope will improve public perceptions and understanding of biological research, alongside hopefully being entertaining!