Dr Cornelia Blume’s research is focused on understanding the complex interaction of the epithelial barrier with environmental challenges like pollen, viruses and bacteria. Cornelia uses human 3D in vitro models of the respiratory mucosa, constantly refining these models to reflect the in vivo situation more accurately. Using a unique multidisciplinary approach she combines traditional methods with -omics, tissue engineering and engineering approaches in her research. For example, using a microfluidic culture platform (collaboration Prof. Morgan, ECS) she monitored for the first time temporal barrier responses during environmental challenges (Blume et al, PLoSOne, 2015) and established a human respiratory epithelial-endothelial co-culture model characterising cellular crosstalk to viral components (Blume et al., Immun. Inflamm. Dis. 2017).
Cornelia is currently investigating the role of the lipid membrane profile on epithelial barrier function, a substantially understudied and unrecognised area of research. By combining novel 3D in vitro models with state-of-the-art, high-resolution analytical methods in the fields of proteomics, transcriptomics, lipidomics and imaging, Cornelia is directing innovative research to investigate cellular crosstalk regulating inflammation with a higher sensitivity than conventional models.
During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic Cornelia was part of a multidisciplinary research team identifying a new short form of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2). ACE2 is expressed in respiratory epithelial cells and while the long form of ACE2 function as the binding receptor for SARS-CoV-2, short ACE2 is missing most of the binding epitopes (Blume et al, Nature Genetics, 2021). She is currently investigating the function of short ACE2 in the antiviral response.
Current PhD Students
- Iain Cameron Postdoctoral Research Prize (2021)
- Distinguished Poster Award (2022)