Profile: Roser Tacho Pinot
We spoke to Roser Tacho Pinot, a PhD student in the Hepworth Lab, to discuss her research experience in Barcelona, her current PhD project on innate lymphoid cells and gut health, and her aspirations for the future!
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your background in research
I am currently a final year PhD student in Matt Hepworth’s lab, where I am studying how innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) work to keep our guts healthy. I studied for a degree in biomedical science back in Barcelona, where I’m from. That’s when I became fascinated by the immune system and its importance in people’s health, so I decided to join the Immunology Service of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, one of the main hospitals in Barcelona, as an undergraduate student.
There, I learned about the routine diagnostic techniques they performed to help patients, and I also had the chance to participate in a research project. This experience made me want to dive into the fundamental side of research, as a key to understanding how the body works, and what goes wrong in different diseases. Following on from this, I decided to join Andrea Cerutti’s laboratory in Barcelona to explore some unresolved questions about how different antibody responses are regulated. With the help of my amazing peers, we were able to describe a new subset of B cells in human tonsils.
This work motivated me to study how the immune system is regulated in barrier tissues, like the intestines, which are constantly in contact with yummy food and friendly microbes, but also the dangers of outside pathogens and pollutants. This interest is what spurred me to move to Manchester to take up my PhD in the Hepworth lab.
What excites you about your research right now?
Right now, I am in the final stages of my PhD research, finishing off my paper and moving into the writing of my thesis. I’m finding it very enriching to see how all the experiments I’ve done come together into a story. At the same time, interesting to see how some others opened intriguing questions that would need their own project to be answered. It’s also an entertaining exercise to go back to old experiments and see how much I’ve learned over the years and how much my experiments have improved since I started in 2020.
What are your career goals?
My goal at the moment is to become a postdoctoral researcher to be able to keep expanding my technical and project management skills. In the long run, I would like to be able to lead my own immunology research group.
Understanding the immune system has already proved to be a great asset in improving people’s health, from vaccines to personalised cell therapies, but there’s still a very long way to go. There are many conditions where the immune system plays a central role, but we still don’t know enough about it to be able to revert the processes that go wrong.
My career goal is to help us understand the immune system in a way that gets us closer to improving the quality of life of people with immune-mediated diseases.
What’s great about immunology at Manchester?
I find the collaborative environment in Manchester outstanding, and it is my favourite thing about doing research here.
Working side by side with people who are experts in techniques I’d like to learn has greatly improved my research and taught me a lot. At the same time, I enjoy contributing to the community here by helping others with their experiments.
The regular seminars and events held in the department also do a great job of showcasing what’s going on around us, and make it very easy to collaborate.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love my weekly activities that keep me fit and sane: the Lydia Becker football team and the Hallé Ancoats Community Choir. They bring me lots of joy, and I’m bad enough at both to keep my brain focused and away from research for at least 3 hours a week!
I also enjoy the occasional meals and hikes shared with people from the division, but on a regular evening, you’ll find me watching a show or playing guitar.
Follow Roser on Twitter: @RoserTP
Photo: Brian Chan