Dr Sylwia Ammoun
Senior Research Fellow
Biomedical Research - Institute of Translational & Stratified Medicine (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry)
EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS
PhD dissertation, Uppsala University, Sweden, Orexin Receptors in Recombinant CHO Cells. Signaling to Short- and Long Term Cells responses
Transfer, Uppsala University, Sweden
Degree of Master of Science, Uppsala University, Sweden Immunomodulatory-and-cytokine gene-cancer therapy
BScs, Uppsala University, Sweden
Member of South of England Brain Tumour Alliance (SEBTA)
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and always appreciate teaching in which I have 16 years of experience.
From 1998 to 2005 I taught medical-, pharmacology- and nurse-students at Uppsala University (Sweden) in following subjects: hemodynamics (blood-vascular circulation-system), safety of medical equipment (current), optical refraction of the eye, heart anatomy (dissection), oscilloscope and pacemaker and muscle structure and function. During this time I also supervised undergraduate and BSc biomedical students and lab assistants.
From 2006 until present I have supervised PhD, BSc and undergraduate students in different projects at Peninsula Medical School (Plymouth, UK). Between 2006 and 2007 I have been teaching medical students in “Neurodegenerative disorders” and “Disease prevention and management- vaccines” at the same university.
I completed Problem-based learning (PBL) facilitator and GTA (Graduate Teaching Award) training and I am keen to use obtained knowledge to improve different teaching techniques both in large and small student groups. I believe that the involvement of the students during lectures and seminars is very important as it creates active learning environment.
Internal and External Doctoral Examiners training
Learning and Teaching for general Teaching Associates (GTA) training including: Theories of Learning and Teaching, Planning Sessions and Delivering Presentations, Learning in Groups, Evaluating Teaching and Giving Feedback, Assessment, Dealing with difficult Situations and Assessment Criteria and Marketing.
Problem-based learning (PBL) facilitator training
RESEARCH INTERESTS AND EXPERIENCE
During my career I have been involved in different projects including: 1) The development of immunomodulatory cancer vaccines to treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) (Clinical Immunology), 2) Investigation of the role of endogenous retroviruses in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (Clinical Virology) and 3) Revealing the signalling of orexinergic receptors towards cell fate determination (Neuroscience).
Since January 2006 I have been working at Professor Oliver Hanemann’s laboratory (Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, The Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine). My work has centred on dissecting the signalling pathways involved in the development of Merlin-deficient tumours in order to find specific and effective treatments. I have successfully achieved external funding from four different charities where I was lead or single applicant. Additionally, I have published nine first authored papers, one book chapter and one invited article in Nature Reviews Neurology. I have also contributed to four other papers published by my colleagues. I am co-supervising a PhD student working on endogenous retroviruses in tumours (Dr Belshaw is the PI) and I am PI for additional PhD students studying the role of the prion proteins and TAM family receptors in the development of Merlin-deficient tumours. Our research team have received an award from Neurofibromatosis (NF) Advocure in recognition of our research and continued commitment to NF2. Additionally, my work within the NF2 field contributed to phase 0 clinical trials at our unit in collaboration with Manchester Hospital. My main goal is to find a good drug treatment for schwannomas and other Merlin-deficient tumours.
p53/mouse double minute 2 homolog complex deregulation in Merlin
This project involved investigation of the role of p53 deregulation in schwannoma development and targeting pathways involved in p53 degradation. In this project I was first author.
Gas6/Axl-family receptors in schwannoma pathological proliferation, adhesion and survival
In this project we have investigated the role of Axl receptor in schwannoma pathological proliferation, cell-matrix adhesion and survival. In this project I was first and corresponding author.
The role of insulin-like growth factors (IGF1/2) signaling in Merlin-deficient human schwannomas
Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) regulates human
schwannoma proliferation, adhesion and survival
In these studies we have demonstrated that IGF1/2 and IGFBP-1 are released from schwannoma cells and IGF-I receptor overexpressed leading to increased schwannoma proliferation and cell-matrix adhesion. In these projects I was first author.
2010-2011: Nilotinib alone or in combination with selumetinib is a drug candidate for
neurofibromatosis type 2
In this project we have tested the therapeutic effectiveness of a PDGFR inhibitor Nilotinib and a MEK1/2 inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244), in human schwannoma in vitro model. In these projects I was first author.
2009-2010: ErbB/HER receptor activation and preclinical efficacy of lapatinib in vestibular schwannoma
This project was in collaboration with Dr Karajannis (USA) to test EGFR/HER inhibitor Lapatinib in human schwannoma in vitro model. In these projects I shared first authorship.
2008-2009: Targeting ERK1/2 activation and proliferation in human primary schwannoma cells with MEK1/2 inhibitor AZD6244
In this study we have tested the therapeutic effectiveness of a MEK1/2 inhibitor AZD6244, in human schwannoma in vitro model. In these projects I was first author.
2007-2008: Dissecting and targeting the growth factor-dependent and growth factor-independent extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway in human schwannoma
Here we demonstrated that PDGFRβ is strongly overexpressed in schwannoma cells leading to increased schwannoma proliferation. We have also successfully tested a PDGFR/Raf inhibitor Sorafenib. In these projects I was first author.
1999-2005: PhD Studentship Orexin Receptors in Recombinant CHO Cells. Signaling to Short- and Long Term Cells responses
The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of orexin receptor coupling to the cascades regulating cell fate and also the assessment of the molecular determinants involved in orexin peptide-orexin receptor interaction.
1997-1998: Post PhD research project
Endogenous retroviruses in neurodegenerative diseases
This project focused on the investigation of the expression of the endogenous retrovirus (ERV9)-related proteins in peripheral blood cells and presence in sera from multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
1996-1997: MSc research project
Immunomodulatory-and-cytokine gene-cancer therapy
The aim of this was to design cancer vaccines to treat leukemia and lymphoma. The vaccines would be implemented in both immunotherapy and gene therapy. For immunotherapy, human blood monocytes were separated and differentiated into dendritic cells for antigen presentation and activation of cellular immunity. For cytokine gene therapy, genes for various cytokines were transferred into acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells via retrovirus- and adenovirus based vectors.
I am currently involved in phase 0 clinical trials testing Sorafenib and Nilotinib in Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) patients. I perform tests on tumour tissue and blood samples from patients to look for the effect of these drugs on signaling pathways known to be involved in the development of Merlin-deficient tumours.
Grants & contracts
April 2015 Action on Hearing Loss International project grant
Endogenous Retroviral proteins as potential immunotherapy and/or drug targets for Merlin-deficient tumours treatment and their role in vestibular neuroma development. I am lead applicant for this grant application. Dr. Robert Belshow is co-applicant and Dr. David Hilton collaborator.
March 2015 Breast Cancer Campaign
Endogenous retroviruses as breast cancer immunotherapy targets. I am co-applicant together with Dr. David Hilton. Dr. Robert Belshow is main applicant.
2014 Action on Hearing Loss Flexi grant, lead applicant, 3 months, £4697
Endogenous Retroviral proteins as potential immunotherapy and/or drug targets for Merlin-deficient tumours treatment and their role in vestibular neuroma development
2014 The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust grant, single applicant, 2 years £26,000
The role of prion proteins in Merlin-deficient tumours
2005 Travel grant Orexins/Hypocretins Symposium, Cologne, Germany
2002 Travel grant European Post Graduate Poster Symposium, Drug Discovery (Pfizer), Sandwich, Kent, UK
2003 Travel grant Neuroscience Meeting, New Orleans, USA
Key publications are highlightedJournals