Brian Ferguson

Principal Investigator

Brian was brought up in Stamford, before moving to London to study Biochemistry as an undergraduate at Imperial College, and as a PhD student at University College London under the guidance of Prof Paul Driscoll and Dr Huseyin Mehmet. This work contributed to the structural and molecular biology of death receptor signalling.  Moving to Cambridge to work under one of the founding fathers of apoptosis, Prof Andrew Wyllie, along with Dr Tina Rich, was an eclectic postdoctoral training experience for Brian, and one which fostered a love of immunology. Working with Prof Geoff Smith as one of the first cohort of Imperial College Research Fellows triggered Brian’s interest in host-pathogen interactions. The co-evolution of pathogens with their hosts means that it is not possible to understand our immune system without studying both sides of this battle.

Ferguson lab has a range of collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects with a particular focus on the innate immune system, how pathogens counter these defence mechanisms and how we can use that information to design better vaccines. Brian is also actively involved in scientific outreach in his role as a STEM ambassador .

Marisa Oliveira


Marisa graduated in Biology and received a MSc degree in Forensic Genetics, both from the University of Porto. In 2014, she was awarded with a 4-year PhD fellowship to study the genetic susceptibility to Dengue infection in Southeast Asians. This project was performed as part of a collaboration between Institute Pasteur (Paris) and Institute for Research and Innovation in Health Sciences (i3S; Porto). In 2018, she concluded her PhD in Biomedical Sciences (University of Porto).

Marisa joined the lab in January 2019, where she is currently working in the innate immune response to exogenous DNA in humans and chickens, in collaboration with the Department of Veterinary Medicine (University of Cambridge).

Dayana Hristova

PhD Student

Dayana is a PhD student who joined the lab in October 2017. Dayana comes originally from Bulgaria, but she did her undergraduate studies at the University of Manchester, where she graduated with BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences with Industrial experience.

Her PhD project focuses on the role of the non-homologous end-joining protein DNA-PKcs in human innate immunity.

Rahul Singh

PhD Student

Rahul is part of the Wellcome Trust programme in Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Cambridge after previously reading Structural Molecular Biology at Imperial College London. His research interests include understanding innate immune sensing and signalling of cytosolic nucleic acids through cellular and molecular biological processes.

His PhD project will determine the role of MDA5 ATP hydrolysis and its accessory proteins (LGP2/PACT) in recognition of viral double-stranded RNA through biophysical (Cryo-EM) and molecular based approaches.

Emma Wagner

PhD Student

Emma is a MRC DTP PhD student working in the lab. Originally from Cambridge, she ventured to Scotland for her BSc(Hons) in Physiology at the University of Aberdeen and then over to Stockholm for her MSc in Biomedicine at the Karolinska Institute, before returning to Cambridge for her PhD.

In the lab Emma’s project focuses on the mechanistic basis by which oncolytic viruses interact with the intracellular DNA sensing machinery.

April D’Arcy

PhD student

April is an MRC funded PhD student who joined the lab in 2020 with the aim of studying the mechanisms of oncolytic virus induced cell death. When not playing rugby April can mostly be found scouring the literature to understand how many new types of cell death have been published in the last 24-48 hours.

Past members

Helena Teague

PhD Student

After graduating Helena moved to the NHS to train in Policy and Strategy

Evgeniya (Zhenya) Shmeleva


Zhenya studied the role of innate immune response in the development of immunological memory and then moved to Dr Francesco Colucci's lab.

Delphine Depierreux

PhD Student

Delphine is now a postdoctoral researcher in Dr Francesco Colucci's laboratory

Taissa Ricciardi-Jorge

Visiting PhD student from UFSC, Brazil

After graduating with her PhD, Taissa moved to become a postdoc with Dr Trevor Sweeney at Pirbright institiute

Anja Schoettler

Visiting Masters Student from Maastricht, Netherlands

Anja has submitted her Masters thesis and returned to Germany with plans to apply for a PhD.

Kathi Lauer


After her stint as a postdoc, Kathi is now the scientific lead of BY-COVID & coordinator of the COVID-19 initiatives at ELIXIR Europe

Ben Trigg

PhD Student

After his PhD, Ben decided to try something new and took up a role as a Software Engineer working for Cyted

Ana Laura Moldoveanu

Research Assistant

Ana left our lab to pursue a PhD at Imperial College, London

Natasha Brett

Masters Student

Natasha successfully completed her masters degree and is now studying for a PhD in Dundee

Christian Ku

PhD Student

After completing his PhD, Christian joined a biotech startup.