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During his postdoctoral training Professor Sattentau worked at University College London and with Nobel Prize winner Richard Axel in New York. Following a tenured position at Marseille, Sattentau returned to his hometown of London as a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College. In 2003, he took a lectureship in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology where he has spent the past two decades working on HIV-1 and aspects of immunology.

What is your main area(s) of interest/expertise?

I have studied many of the same things for more than 30 years. Most of my work has centred around the interaction of the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) with its cellular targets, trying to understand how this works and how to interfere with it. For the past 15 years we have also worked on HIV antibody-based vaccine design, a particularly tough problem. A third research area is how the immune system is triggered by different stimuli including vaccine adjuvants and unwanted immune activation leading to immunopathology.

What are you working on right now?

We are currently producing engineered proteins from CoV-2 to use for ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay – a diagnostic tool) detection of anti-CoV-2 antibodies. We are using these proteins to establish a sensitive ELISA for CoV-2 responses, for which all procedures and reagents are in place. This is an urgent unmet need in COVID-19 research and diagnostics, as reliable and sensitive ELISA formats for analysis of antibodies for the disease are lacking.

Why is Oxford a good place to work in this field of research?

The University has given me and my colleagues the space and support we need to develop vaccines against one of humanity’s biggest threats in HIV-1. It is this freedom to operate and create that has provided the underpinning knowledge to flip our focus onto COVID-19.

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