ACF in Dermatology
Dr Antonia Lloyd-Lavery
Pathway to an ACF position
I undertook my pre-clinical and clinical training at Hertford College in Oxford during which time I completed an intercalated degree project investigating the role of Rho kinase inhibitors in smooth muscle contraction in the Department of Pharmacology.
This early laboratory experience sparked my enthusiasm for research and encouraged me to complete an Academic Foundation post following my medical training. By this stage, I was committed to pursuing a career in dermatology and gained invaluable experience working in Professor Graham Ogg’s laboratory in the Human Immunology Unit at the Weatherall Institution of Molecular Medicine (WIMM), investigating the role of filaggrin mutations in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. Following completion of core medical training, I returned to the WIMM as a Clinical Fellow, working with a DPhil student and a post-doctoral scientist to develop a novel genotype-phenotype screening assay. This time gave me valuable experience of additional laboratory techniques and developed my knowledge of molecular biology.
Since commencing my Academic Clinical Fellowship in Dermatology, I have resumed research in the field of atopic dermatitis.
Combining research alongside my clinical work has made my medical training much more variable and interesting. As a result, I am better able to understand the scientific evidence underpinning our current understanding of the pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis.
What does the work involve?
Based in Professor Ogg’s lab at the WIMM, I have been investigating common polymorphisms in CD1a, which is highly expressed by Langerhans cells in the epidermis, and its role in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. We have shown that allergen-specific CD1a-restricted T cells are present at higher frequencies in patients with atopic dermatitis compared to healthy controls on ex vivoanalysis, both in the peripheral blood and in blister fluid following allergen challenge through skin prick testing.
With the assistance of OUCAGS funding, I have been able to attend and present this work at the International Symposium on Atopic Dermatitis, and to complete the Thesis research course and learn more about ongoing research in the field of dermatology at the British Society of Investigative Dermatology meeting. These conferences also provided me with excellent opportunities to liaise with potential collaborators based at difference centres in the UK and Ireland.
I am also currently a Co-Investigator with Prof Ogg for the ongoing Atopix randomised controlled trial in Oxford investigating an oral CRTH2 antagonist in the management of moderate-severe atopic dermatitis. This experience has already provided me with a valuable insight into the running of a clinical trial and an opportunity to take the lead with recruitment and follow-up of study patients. I have really enjoyed the direct patient contact and clinical relevance of trial work and this is an area I am passionate about pursuing further in the future.
I have just been awarded the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network Neil Cox Fellowship, which I will complete over the next two years. This will give me a wonderful opportunity to work with the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham, assisting in the development of a clinical trial from concept to funded study and joining the UK DCTN Steering Committee. Throughout this Fellowship, I am aiming to develop my knowledge of clinical trials, including their design and appraisal, which are skills I plan to take forward in my future academic career.
Throughout my clinical training, I have also continued to enjoy teaching medical students and doctors in training and have been a Clinical Lecturer at Hertford College since 2009.
Throughout my clinical training, as an academic foundation trainee and subsequently an ACF, I have found the environment provided by OUCAGS to be both inspiring and supportive for those interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine. My supervisor, Prof Ogg, is a wonderful mentor and has given me invaluable opportunities to develop my laboratory and clinical research skills and focus on particular areas of interest. There is a strong academic emphasis in the Oxford Dermatology Department, with regular departmental academic meetings and monthly meetings at the Royal Society of Medicine. Regular attendance at seminars and journal club meetings at the WIMM and Academic Medical Forum meetings have enabled me to learn more about other ongoing research projects in Oxford and different techniques being used in laboratory and clinical settings. I have also found the Management in Medicine programme at Green Templeton College very useful in developing essential skills in leadership and management. I would thoroughly recommend academic clinical training in Oxford.
I will complete the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network Neil Cox Fellowship over the next two years and hope to pursue a career incorporating academic medicine and teaching alongside clinical dermatology work in the future.