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Biological SciencesPostgraduate study

Miss Hannah Smith BSc

Postgraduate Research Student in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Miss Hannah Smith's photo

Hannah Smith is a postgraduate research student in Biological Sciences at the Universtiy of Southampton.

Hannah joined the University of Southampton as a postgraduate research student after completing her bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Bath. During her undergraduate study, Hannah undertook a placement year at the Peninsula Medical School where she investigated the role of Notch signalling in melanoma and how it impacts resistance to chemotherapy.  For her PhD project, she is researching how Fc engineering strategies influence the effector function of therapeutic antibodies, with the aim of improving therapy for the treatment of secondary breast cancer. Her project is funded by Against Breast Cancer following generous support from Cisco.

Academic qualifications


2018-present: PhD in Biological Sciences

2014-2018: Bsc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences with Professional Placement. University of Bath, UK

Research interests

Trastuzumab is an anti-HER-2 monoclonal antibody (mAb) used in the treatment of HER-2+ breast cancers. Although it is known to improve patient survival, many do not respond to treatment. Trastuzumab has two antigen binding F(ab) domains that bind to the extracellular domain of HER-2, thus preventing the activation of downstream pro-tumoural signalling pathways. Trastuzumab’s Fc domain also has the potential to recruit immune effectors, including Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) present on immune cells. Both potential mechanisms of action may contribute to anti-tumour activity.

For my PhD project, I have generated a panel of trastuzumab variants with modified Fc domains. These variants have the potential to enhance immune effector function against HER-2 tumour cells by increasing the binding affinity between Fc and FcγRs. I shall be investigating how these Fc modifications impact the structure and glycan profile of the resulting mAb, and assess how this influences the interaction between various immune cells populations.

PhD supervision

Professor Max Crispin, Professor Stephen Beers

PhD research title

Antibody Engineering to Improve Breast Cancer Therapy

PhD Funding

Against Breast Cancer

Research group

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Affiliate research group

School of Cancer Sciences

Miss Hannah Smith
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ
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