genomics lite: T cells in focus

Exploring T cell immunology and its links to health and disease


Thu 19th May, 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

This session will explore T cells – what they are, what they do and how they are studied experimentally. We’ll also discuss the career journey of our speaker.

Our guest speaker for genomics lite: T cells in focus is Megan Gozzard. Megan is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Session Recording:


Genomics Lite in Focus is a programme of live webinars to inspire and engage upper secondary school students, teachers and other educational groups. Each talk explores a different field in biology in focus, highlighting how genomics research contributes to understanding the topic.

Each 75 minute session includes a 30 minute talk on the topic, a 15 minute talk about the speakers career journey, and time for Q&A with the audience. Polls and audience questions are used throughout to encourage interaction between the audience and the speaker.

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These resources are designed to support and further attendees’ understanding of T Cells, and are aimed at students in upper secondary years (e.g. year 10 and higher).

A downloadable learning resources PDF is available at the bottom of this page.

What are T Cells and what do they do?

  • T Cells are an important part of the specific immune response and have four main roles: killing infected host cells, activating other immune cells, producing cytokines and regulating the immune response.
  • T Cells are activated when they come across a host cell that has been infected by a pathogen and is displaying antigens on its cell membrane:
  • The production of and levels of T Cells is linked to disease – most recently with COVID-19. Some data from the US suggests that COVID-19 patients in intensive care had a decreased level of T Cells.
  • T Cells are also linked to autoimmune diseases – some T Cell defects are linked to autoimmune conditions, leading to the immune system attacking the hosts own organs.

How are T Cells studied?

  • CRISPR-Cas9 can be used to introduce genetic changes into T Cells to test the effects of the changes on the T Cells function. CRISPR is a genome editing technique that allows for precise alterations in the genome.
  • The Trynka Group at the Wellcome Sanger Institute specialises in studying Immune Genomics – how changes at the genome level might affect individuals’ immune system and risk of disease. In this video, Gosia Trynka describes how she uses a combination of laboratory experiments and computer analyses to explore how genetic variants influence the immune system:


pdf Genomics Lite Learning Pack T-Cells