Research at Leeds Beckett
Dr Sareen Galbraith
About Dr Sareen Galbraith
Sareen E Galbraith is a molecular virologist working on RNA viruses. Work in her lab focuses on the interaction of positive stranded RNA viruses (flavivirus and alphavirus) with their mammalian hosts and on detection of these viruses in their mammalian and vector hosts.
After her initial PhD studies, she carried out two Postdoctoral Research Fellowships where her work focused on elucidating virulence determinants in Semliki Forest virus to give greater understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of the virus and improve vector biosafety. She then created a replication competent attenuated Semliki Forest virus vector for use as a vaccine and as a gene therapy agent for cancer and neurological diseases. She worked to develop and patent the replicating Semliki Forest virus vector with patent agents and Technology Transfer Managers for Trinity College and University College Dublin.
At the University of Texas Medical Branch, her research investigated the molecular epidemiology of West Nile virus. The results from this work have been used to inform vaccine design.
Her flavivirus research expanded to involve sequencing and molecular phylogenetic analysis of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV); discovering a new fourth genotype of the virus. Recent work in her lab has examined the effect of autophagy on flavivirus and alphavirus growth in cells of the central nervous system.
Sareen is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science, and currently teaches on the following BSc (Hons) modules:
- Microbial World
- Introduction to Biomedical Science
- Principals of Pharmacology
- Infectious Disease
- Global Topics in Infectious Diseases
She also teaches on the following Masters modules:
- Contemporary Research in Biomedical Sciences
- Bioanalytical Techniques
Sareen's current work involves detection of zoonotic viruses, for example rodent borne Hantaviruses and mosquito borne flaviviruses, at home and overseas.
A collaborative NIHR funded study with Public Health England has investigated Hantaviruses as a cause of acute kidney injury in the UK and isolated a new strain of Hantavirus (Humber) from a farm in Yorkshire and the Humber. This study has been used to inform clinical practice and diagnostic testing of at risk groups, such as farmers, rodent control workers and dock workers, who present with acute kidney injury. New guidelines have been produced to inform and educate pet rat owners.
A collaborative BBSRC funded study has investigated the vector competence of British mosquitoes for flaviviruses. Flaviviruses are emerging and UK temperatures are increasing due to global warming. This is a multidisciplinary study based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. One of very few UK Universities to have containment level 3 insect facilities.
The other area of her current work examines the effect of autophagy on flavivirus and alphavirus growth. Autophagy is a cellular response to starvation that provides a short term supply of amino acids by degrading proteins. Induction of autophagy has been shown to both inhibit and enhance the growth of RNA virus. This is vital work because there are no therapeutics for flavivirus infections, which are an increasing public health threat. This is a collaborative study with Prof Tom Wileman’s lab at the University of East Anglia to inform the development of therapeutics for flavivirus encephalitis.