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About me

University Responsibilities

I am a Principal Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences of the Faculty of Science and Technology. I lead three modules 3BLY511 - BSc Molecular Genetics; 3BLY615 - BSc Molecular Therapeutics and 3BIO7P5 - MSc Immunopathology.

I am Faculty academic coordinator of ERASMUS PLUS program.Currently I act as:

  • Coordinator of the EU project TEMPUS-JPCR-544282 "The development of a curriculum and establishment of a regional training platform for haematology in life sciences and medicine".
  • Coordinator of the EU project TEMPUS-JPHES-543802 "Establishment of Multidisciplinary Innovative Centres for the Development of Virtual Laboratories (MICVL) in Biology and Medicine".
  • Coordinator of the EU project TEMPUS-JPCR-158627 "Development of the e-learning and distance learning courses and assessment in Biomedical Sciences in Southern Caucasus".

In 2011 this project was announced as the best regional TEMPUS project during 20 years of the program existence and in November, 2012 it won Times Higher Education (THE) award as UK International Collaboration of the Year.

Qualifications

I have completed by secondary education in Tbilisi, Georgia, with the golden medal, as the top 1% of the graduates and studied Biology (BSc) and Genetics (MSc) at Tbilisi State University, Georgia, and graduated in with the First Class degree as the top 5% of the year.

I continued my PhD studies in Immunology in Lomonossov Moscow State University, Russia, and have been awarded PhD degree in Immunology.

At the age of 32 I have been awarded a title of the Professor of Immunology at Tbilisi State University, Georgia, and was the youngest woman professor in the country.

Professional Experience

In 1988 I founded at TSU the first in the Caucasian region Research Laboratory in Immunology and led it until 1992.

In 1992 I founded at TSU the first in the Caucasian region Department of Immunology. I personally developed BSc and MSc curricula in Immunology for Biology and Medical degrees as well as the whole of the MSc program in Immunology. I supervised 16 successful PhD dissertations and trained all members of my staff.

In 2004 for my role in the restructuring and development of higher education in Georgia I have been awarded by the President of Georgia Order of Honour (e.g.Legion d'Honneur).

In 1996-1998 I was invited to carry out research on epitope-specific vaccines as a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Immunology and Molecular Pathology, University College London (UCL) in research laboratory of Professor Ivan Roitt. From 1998 until 2002 I continued my research at UCL on Immunobiology of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) in the laboratory of Professor Peter Lydyard.

In 2002-2013 I have been employed as Senior Lecturer at the School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster.

In 2008-2009 I spent several months as a visiting researcher (sabbatical) in the laboratory of Dr Nicholas Chiorazzi, Feinstein Institute of Medical research, NY, USA.

Since 2013 I am a Principal Lecturer at the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Westminster.

My other interests include languages, history, classical music, chess and fitness.

Teaching

Teaching experience

In the Faculty of Science and Technology I am leading three modules:

  • Level 5: FMAB504 Molecular Genetics (BSc);
  • Level 6: 3BLY615 Molecular Therapeutics (BSc)
  • Level 7: 3BIO7P5 Immunopathology (MSc).

Each module has a dedicated site on the Blackboard, containing Module handbook, teaching material, presentations of the lectures, and detailed assessments. For each module I set up Discussion boards to assist with assessments and consolidation.

The contents of the modules I lead always contain cutting edge and sometimes unique topics. For example, my module 3BLY615 Molecular Therapeutics is the only one in the UK where we teach Bacteriophage-based therapies and Epitope-specific vaccines.

I am contributing to teaching following modules:

  • 3MED664 and 3MED665 Medical Immunology (BSc);
  • 3BCM605 Current Topics in Molecular Biology (BSc);
  • 3BLY617 Processes in Pathology (BSc);
  • 3BIO7G4 Molecular Therapeutics (MSc);
  • 3BIO7G5 Immunotherapy (MSc).

While in Georgia I developed curricula and syllabi for the following courses/modules: Immunogenetics, Human Immunopathology, Immunity to tumours, Recombinant vaccines, Immunochemistry, Molecular Immunology, Immunity to Infection, Allergology, Comparative Immunology, Immunotechnology and Methods of Immunological Research. I have developed Collaborative MSc Course in Medical Molecular Biology (MMB) by Flexible Learning. The course was developed to establish collaborative degrees with the leading universities in the Southern Caucasus - Tbilisi State University and Kutaisi State University (Georgia); Yerevan State University and Yerevan State Medical University (YSU, Armenia); Baku State University and Baku State Medical University (BSU, Azerbaijan).

The syllabus of the new course is based on the existing "in house" course MSc Course in Medical Molecular Biology modified to incorporate new methods of teaching with a strong emphasis on electronic (e)- learning methods and blended teaching technology.

To build on this success we are currently developing a new project that will apply innovative technologies to develop virtual laboratories. The ubiquity of digital technologies has already changed learning attitudes, cognitive processes and knowledge acquisition patterns. Today's multigeneration student body requires educators to understand generational differences, particularly in terms of technological ability. The new generations of learners are digitally literate, they think more visually, and in a non-linear manner, they practice multitasking and give preference to multimedia environments including 3D systems.

In 2012 I have been awarded by the UoW Students' union certificates: Outstanding Teacher and Outstanding Personal Tutor.

Textbooks

  • "Cells, Tissues and Organs of the Immune System" (Chapter 2) in Immunology, 8th edition, Elsevier, 2013, pp 17-50 (eds D. Male, J. Brostoff, DB Roth and IM Roitt).
  • "Case Studies in Infectious Diseases", Francis&Taylor, 2009.
  • "Immunopathology of ageing and prognosis of longevity", Tbilisi State University Press, 1997.
  • "Immunoregulation in vitro and ageing", Tbilisi State University Press, 1995
  • "Methods of the study of the Human Immune system", Tbilisi State University Press, 1981.

Research

Research milestones

  • I was the first to demonstrate heterogeneity of the expression of the toll-like receptor CD180/RP105 on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) cells in correlation with B cell receptor (BCR) that may represent a novel prognostic marker (Porakishvili et al., 2005). I have further demonstrated that CD180 and BCR use the same signalling pathways downstream from ZAP70/Syk to Akt that increases survival of CLL cells (Porakishvili et al., 2011). Very recently (Porakishvili et al., paper under submission) I showed that engagement of CD180 can switch BCR signalling from pro-survival Btk/PI3K/Akt pathway to pro-apoptotic p38MAPK pathway that would represent an interest as a therapeutic target.
  • I have demonstrated expansion of CD4+ perforin (PF) and granzyme expressing cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTLs) in patients with CLL. CD4+PF+ T cells were able to induce PF-mediated apoptosis in vitro of the autologous leukaemic cells in presence of bispecific CD19xCD3 antibodies (Porakishvili et al., 2001,2004). My research group further showed that CD4+PF+ CTLs in CLL are involved in anti-cytomegaloviral responses and belong to effector memory T cells (Walton et al., 2010).
  • With the colleagues from the Brest University (France) I demonstrated induction of apoptosis of B-CLL cells by CD5 ligation, dependent on the level of the expression of CD79b and CD38 cells (Pers et al., 2002). The apoptosis is accompanied by the decrease in Bcl2/Bax ratio. Recently we have shown co-function of surface IgM and CD5 in pro-apoptotic signalling in B-CLL cells (Nedellec et al., 2005).
  • I have been working on the construction of epitope-specific contraceptive and anti-tumour vaccine and demonstrated that the mutant -subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) with a single amino-acid substitution 68 ArgGlu had a decreased cross-reactivity with the -chain of human luteinising hormone while retaining immunogenicity of the hCG-specific epitopes. In mutant protein the dominant antibody response was re-directed towards the C-terminal peptide (CTP). Recently we demonstrated that auto-antibodies to hCG prevent malignisation of benign tumour (Chikadze et al., 2010). We have now optimised vaccine prototype for hCG including career molecule and adjuvant (Chikadze et al, paper in preparation).

Current research interests

The function of CD180 and on CD180/BCR-mediated pro-survival and pro-apoptotic signalling in B cells and in CLL cells as a translational study for the development of new immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of CLL; Further development of hCG-based anti-tumour vaccine prototype. My research collaborators include leading experts in the field of CLL and hCG from the US, Italy, France and UK.

Successful grant applications during past 10 years

  • Coordinator of the EU project TEMPUS-JPCR-544282 "The development of a curriculum and establishment of a regional training platform for haematology in life sciences and medicine" (2013-2016).
  • Coordinator of the EU project TEMPUS-JPHES-543802 "Establishment of Multidisciplinary Innovative Centres for the Development of Virtual Laboratories (MICVL) in Biology and Medicine" (2013-2016).
  • Coordinator of the TEMPUS/TACIS JEP-158236: "Development of the e-learning and distance learning courses and assessment in Biomedical sciences in Southern Caucasus" (2010-2013). The project has been named as the best TEMPUS regional project during the 20 years of the EU TEMPUS program existence.
  • Leukaemia Research Fund: "Distribution and function of CD180 on B-CLL leukaemic cells" (together with Professor Peter Lydyard, UCL, UK).
  • The EU TEMPUS/TACIS Networking program: "Creation of the Network of the regional universities for the development of biomedical education in Georgia" 2001- 2005 (together with Professor Peter M Lydyard, UCL, and Professor Guglielmo Mariani, Palermo University, Italy).
  • The EU INTAS grant "Immunotherapy of B cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (B-CLL)", 2002 - 2005 (together with Professor Peter M Lydyard, UCL, and Professor Carlo Grossi, University of Genoa, Italy).

Supervision of PhD students as Director of Studies (DoS)

Nadeeka Rajakaruna (2012-2015) 

Ketki Vispute (2009-2013) 

Dr Azka Memon (2006-2009) 

Dr James Walton (2003-2007) 

16 successful PhD dissertations in Georgia.

Publications

For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.