Dr Alison Taylor

Dr Alison Taylor


I am an early career researcher in LICAP investigating the role and function of Glycogen synthase kinase-3a/b (GSK-3) in the regulation of immunity.

Alison graduated from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (UWA) with a BSc in Immunology and Zoology and began a PhD in Immunology under the supervision of Professor Cezmi Akdis at The Swiss Institute for Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF) in Davos, Switzerland. After completing her PhD, Alison moved into the laboratory of Prof. David MacEwan in the School of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

In 2008, Alison went on to join Professor Chris Rudd in Cambridge where her research focussed on T cell signalling and co-stimulatory pathways. This led to the award of a CRUK immunology Project award, which Alison brought with her to Leeds in 2016 under the mentorship of Professor Graham Cook.

Alison was awarded a CRUK Immunology Project Award in June 2015 and has been involved in public engagement activities for CRUK. Her work was featured during the stand up to cancer campaign in 2016.

Research interests

My main research interest is to study the role and function of Glycogen synthase kinase-3a/b (GSK-3) in the regulation of immunity. GSK-3 is a serine/threonine kinase and is involved in multiple pathways, including T cell signalling, wnt signalling and the hedgehog pathway. GSK-3 is constitutively active in resting cells and treatment of cells with an agent, e.g. insulin inactivates GSK-3 through a Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K) dependent mechanism. CD28 is a T-cell co-receptor required for optimal activation of T-cells through its binding to PI3-K, activating PKB/Akt which phosphorylates Ser-21 and Ser-9 on GSK-3a and GSK-3b, respectively, inhibiting GSK-3 activity. The beta isoform is of prime importance in diabetes, Alzheimer disease, and inflammation. However, its role in immunity and cancer biology is unclear. Checkpoint blockade is currently a heavily investigated area and although anti-PD-1 therapy is proving to be a successful treatment in patients, there is still much scope for improvement as not all patients respond to anti-PD1 therapy and some suffer adverse effects. My research has shown that small molecule inhibitors of GSK-3 are as effective as, if not more so, than anti-PD1 when used in in vivo murine models of viral infection and cancer, this inhibition having direct and indirect effects on PD-1 expression. GSK-3 regulation of PD-1 is only one aspect however, it is possible there are other downstream targets or signalling pathways involved. Alison’s current research investigates the downstream pathway of GSK-3 and its isoforms and identify any other genes which are affected through its blockade and determine if there are further potential therapeutic targets.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's
  • Cancer