Kate (Caitlin) Murnane
Main research interest: understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning aberrant fetal B-lymphopoiesis and paediatric Down Syndrome-ALL
Eventually, we hope our contributions will support the discovery of new target genes or even whole pathways, in order to help mitigate the real-life impact of aberrant B-cell differentiation programmes, for young children with DS.
My work involves applying basic research approaches to understanding the mechanisms underpinning aberrant Down syndrome-associated fetal B-cell development. I am a grateful recipient of the MRC WIMM scholarship (4 years). Through my research, I hope to understand why perturbation of fetal B-lymphopoiesis predisposes young children with Down syndrome to a 40 fold higher risk of B-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and life-long immune defects. Eventually, we hope our contributions will support the discovery of new target genes or even whole pathways, in order to help mitigate the real-life impact of aberrant B-cell differentiation programmes, for young children with DS. Further work into DS-ALL, will also support ongoing investigations into acute infant and childhood B/T-ALL within the general population, and will crucially help elucidate the role of chromosome 21 in wider haematological abnormalities.
One of my favourite aspects of my PhD, is making complex scientific concepts engaging and accessible to a wider audience, both verbally and through the journalistic medium. I was recently recruited to editorial team of The Oxford Scientist magazine, where I hold the position of Sub-Editor and am a regular columnist on Science and Society. I recently helped coordinate a global initiative seeking to tackle Differential Attainment within medical research and healthcare, organised by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), in collaboration with partners including the Royal College of Physicians, General Medical Council, Wellcome Trust etc.
Outside the lab, I am a passionate social activist, particularly in efforts regarding equality and diversity. I am also a freelance writer for the women-led sustainability and lifestyle magazine Imprint, where I discuss feminism, diversity and overcoming misogyny in the workplace. Since starting my PhD, I have loved being a part of the student community. I currently hold the position of welfare officer for The Oxford Feminist Society and host my podcast Grab 'Em by the Poesy, which seeks to highlight inspirational women of Oxford (many within STEM), and the obstacles they have overcome to make their valued contributions. Previously I held the role of St Edmund Hall MCR Welfare Officer (2019-2020).