Areas of interest
Immune responses to parasitic infections; filarial nematodes (lymphatic filariases, onchocerciasis and loasis); innate immune cells (neutrophils, macrophages, eosinophils, dendritic cells, innate lymphoid cells) and their functions (in particular neutrophil extracellular traps –NETs- release, granulomas, degranulation, antigen-presenting cell –APC- function) ; flow cytometry
Nicolas Pionnier graduated from the University of Avignon (France) in 2006 with a French equivalent to a B.Sc. in Biology and then graduated from the University of Montpellier 2 (France) in 2008 with a French equivalent to a M.Sc. in Epidemiology and Parasites Ecology. He joined the University of Keele (UK) in 2009 for a Ph.D. in fish immunology under the supervision of Prof. Dave Hoole as a Marie Curie fellow. He therefore joined the “Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) NEMO: Training Network on Protective Immune Modulation in Warm Water Fish by Feeding Glucans” and obtained his Ph.D. in late 2012 with his work on the effect of glucan or infection on innate acute phase proteins in common carp Cyprinus carpio. In October 2012, as a post-doctoral research assistant, he joined Drs. Coralie Martin and Françoise Bachelerie, respectively at the French Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, in Paris (France) and at the UMR 996 Cytokines, Chemokines and Immunopathology, Clamart (France). In their groups, he worked on the immune response to filariases infections and especially focused on the role and therapeutic potential of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its CXCL12 ligand in the progression of the filarial infection. In April 2015 Nicolas joined Dr Joseph Turner’s group in the Parasitology department as a post-doctoral research assistant and carry on investigating immune responses to filariasis infection.
I am mainly focused on investigating and manipulating the mechanisms of innate and adaptive host resistance to Brugia malayi, Loa loa and Onchocerca ochengi worms in mice in order to develop susceptible in vivo filariasis models. An immediate application of these basic immuno-biological studies will advance testing of new treatments against onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis).
Outside of those fundamental biological approaches, I am actively involved in translational research programs such as in the A-WOL (Anti-Wolbachia) consortium where I am mostly involved in the in vivo drug screening studies within the development pipeline. Most of this in vivo work is done in collaboration with Prof. Samuel Wanji in Cameroon and involves regular travels in the field. This successful and fruitful collaboration allowed new in vivo Onchocerca ochengi and Loa loa drug screening or counter-screening models to be developed and now actively being implemented in the anti-filariasis drug development pipeline.
I have recently been awarded an EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) fellowship (2019) as well as a LSTM Jean Clayton Fund grant (2018) to investigate innate lymphoid cells dynamics during helminth infection and find out if worm infection protect from developing liver disease.
Overall my work contributes shedding light on LSTM's research quality, through regular publications of high quality research articles (4 in 2019, 1 in 2018, 2 in 2017, 2 in 2016), oral communications in international congresses (1 in 2019, 3 in 2018, 2 in 2017), poster communications in international and national congresses (1 in 2019, 1 in 2017, 2 in 2016) and invited seminars in national and international research institutes.
I am actively involved in teaching across a variety of Master modules in the Parasitology department (lectures, practicals, tutorial sessions and mentoring) but also at an international level with regular international invited lectures. I have recently been granted a SEDA teaching qualification (and acting now as a mentor for fellow colleagues), which contributes to my home institute's excellence in teaching.
Other relevant expertise, professional memberships etc.
Member of the British Society for Parasitology (BSP) since 2010, of the British Society of Immunology (BSI) since 2016, of the Société Française de Parasitologie (SFP) since 2016, of the Société Française d’Immunologie (SFI) since 2017 and of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) since 2017.