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Sarah Spencer is a Wellcome Trust PhD Clinical Fellow. She received her MBChB and a BSc in Pharmacology from the University of Glasgow, before moving to Oxford to undertake clinical training. She received an MSc in Integrated Immunology from the University of Oxford in 2015. In 2018 she commenced Academic Clinical Immunology training in Cambridge and began working in the lab of James Thaventhiran.

Research Interests:

As a clinical immunologist, Sarah has experience in the management and investigation of patients with rare genetic immune disorders, and her early work with James Thaventhiran centred on the identification of a novel primary immune deficiency disease, caused by deficiency of the IL-6 receptor. However her real interest lies in how the study of rare genetic causes of immune disease can help us to understand the mechanisms of common diseases, and she is currently investigating how IL-6 signalling may be altered in obesity.

Obesity is likely to be one of the most significant global health concerns in the coming decades. Obesity is now recognised to cause a state of immune deficiency - patients are at increased risk of severe infections, and fail to respond normally to vaccinations. Sarah has recently been involved in a collaborative study which has shown that severely obese patients have dysfunctional responses to COVID-19 vaccination. She is currently determining the effects of obesity on IL-6 signalling and how this may lead to inadequate vaccine responses.



Key publications: 

Chen YH, Spencer S, Laurence A, Thaventhiran JE and Uhlig HH. Inborn errors of IL-6 family cytokine responses. Curr Opin Immunol, Vol. 72 Pages 135-145. (2021)

Spencer S, Kostel Bal S, Egner W, Lango Allen H, Raza SI, Ma CA, et al. Loss of the interleukin-6 receptor causes immunodeficiency, atopy, and abnormal inflammatory responses. J Exp Med, Vol. 216 Issue 9 Pages 1986-1998 (2019)

Mann T, Smith A, Spencer S, Russell A and Thaventhiran JE. The use of CRISPR for variant specificity in the genetic diagnosis of primary immunodeficiency disease (PID). bioRxiv. (2019)

PhD Student

Contact Details

MRC Toxicology Unit
Gleeson Building
Tennis Court Road