Senior Clinical Lecturer
I graduated from the University of Siena in 2004 with cum laude distinction. During my dental undergraduate programme I trained in molecular microbiology and developed a special interest for host-microbe interactions. After completing a PhD in Pathology at King’s College London in 2008, I worked as post-doctoral research associate and continued my involvement in 3 European Commission-funded projects (Research Programs FP6 and FP7) aimed at developing anti-HIV-1 microbicides. During this time I was also trained in management of patients with Oral Medicine-related conditions at the King’s College London Dental Institute.
Since my appointment to Clinical Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen Dental School in 2011, I have secured research funds in excess of £ 750,000 for projects in which I am the principal investigator. I am also involved in a number of external and internal collaborations. Collaborators here at the University of Aberdeen include Professor Neil Gow, Dr Ian M Gould. I currently supervise 3 PhD students. My research covers both basic and translational aspects. It includes investigation of molecular mechanisms of HIV infection and drug transport at mucosal surfaces, studies on oral microbiota together with development of inhibitors of infection as well as approaches to manipulate mucosal microbiota. I was promoted to in 2016 and currently hold the joint post of Senior Clinical Lecturer/Honorary StR in Oral Medicine.
I have been invited to give research seminars at a number prestigious institutions including Imperial College London, University College London and Glasgow University. I have acted as external examiner for UK and European institutions.
Members of my team have received awards for our research at both national (British Society for Oral Medicine) and international (HIV Research 4 Prevention) scientific conferences.
Karolin Hijazi’s main research focus is the development of microbicides against HIV-1. Microbicides are inhibitors of viral attachment, fusion or replication that can be applied directly to mucosal tissues to prevent transmission of HIV.
More generally, Karolin Hijazi is interested in the role of microbiota and host response in etiology and pathogenesis of mucosal diseases, and also the development of agents for modulation of host-microbe interaction at mucosal surfaces. As research fellow at the University of Siena Karolin Hijazi was involved in EC and NIH-funded research programs aimed at analyzing attachment receptors and potential virulence factors of Streptococcus gordonii and use of this microorganism as a mucosal delivery vehicle for vaccine antigens and inhibitors. Research activities at King’s College London included investigation of the role of DC-SIGN receptor in dendritic cell-mediated transmission of HIV.
Microbicide Optimization Through Innovative Formulation for Vaginal and Rectal Delivery (MOTIF). Funded by European Commission (Seventh Framework Programme).
Collaborative SME-targeted consortium aimed at developing optimized formulations of anti-retroviral-based microbicides against HIV-1. One of the main aims of MOTIF is to investigate the effects of drug uptake and efflux transporters on mucosal disposition of topically applied antiretroviral drugs. Karolin Hijazi is the responsible scientist of the Work Package aimed at investigating gene expression of anti-retroviral drug uptake and efflux transporters in cervicovaginal and colorectal tissues. The European Commission has awarded £ 478,000 to the University of Aberdeen to implement the deliverables of this Work Package in collaboration with the University of Siena, Italy.
Project co-ordinator: Professor Charles Kelly (King’ s College London).
Collaborators: Professor Gianni Pozzi (Microbiotec srl, Siena), Dr Franco Iannelli (University of Siena), Dr Georgina Hold (University of Aberdeen), Dr Roger LeGrand (CEA, Paris), Professor Robin Shattock (Imperial College).
Fragment-based Screening for Development of Inhibitors Preventing HIV-1 Entry. Funded by Scottish Universities Life Science Aliance (SULSA).
The CD4 binding site on HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein is a promising target for development of effective HIV-1 inhibitors with increased potency and barrier to viral resistance. Identification of inhibitors targeting this epitope is hampered by heavy glycosylation and conformational flexibility of the envelope glycoprotein.
A Surface Plasmon Resonance assay which allows stable exposure of the CD4 binding site (see diagram below) is being used to conduct a high-throughput fragment screen, as part of a SULSA-funded collaboration with experts in the field of fragment-based drug discovery at the University of Dundee; fragment hits identified by the screen will be developed into leads as part of a drug discovery programme within the Kosterlitz Centre for Therapeutics medicinal chemistry laboratories.
For more details visit the Kosterlitz Centre for Therapeutics website
Collaborators: Dr Iain Greig (Kosterlitz Centre for Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen), Dr Iva Navratilova (University of Dundee)
Oral Microbiota in Patients suffering from inflammatory mucosal disease.
Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS) is the most common disease affecting the soft tissues of the oral cavity. It is characterized by recurrent ulcers affecting all areas of the mouth in otherwise healthy patients. These ulcers cause considerable pain and can interfere with many oral functions (eating, speech, tooth-brushing), and, thus, have high impact on quality of life.
Current treatment of this condition is on based corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. These drugs act by down-modulating the immune system and are associated to a number of side effects. Mostly importantly, these treatments are only palliative as they only reduce the severity of the ulceration and do not stop recurrence.
This study investigates the role of microbiota and innate immune response in triggering/modulating inflammation at the ulceration sites.
Collaborators: Mr Terry Lowe and Mr Rory Morrison (Consultants in Oral & Maxillo-Facial Surgery).
DENTAL EDUCATION RESEARCH
In collaboration with Dr Jennifer Foley (Senior Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry) we are carrying out projects for quality assurance of academic practice at Aberdeen University Dental School as well original pedagogical research projects to assess associations between BDS candidate performance at the selection process and subsequent academic success during the graduate BDS programme.
European Commission (FP7-HEALTH-2012)
I contribute to the following courses:
Dental Health & Disease (DE2002, DE3002, DE4002, DE5002) which I also coordinate
Principle of Disease (ME2308) which I also coordinate
Patient Care (DE4007, DE5007)
MSc Microbiology (MC5008)
Molecular Microbiology (MC3504)
Applied Immunology (IM3502)
Mechanisms of disease and principles of chemotherapy (PA3802)
- Further Info
Expert evaluator for the European Commission (Societal Challenges 1 - Horizon 2020).
I regularly peer-review articles for the following reputed international journals: Journal of Virology, Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy, PLoS One, PeerJ, Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance, Clinical Oral Investigations, Microbiome, Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Journal of Hospital Infection, Innate Immunity, Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
I have reviewed fellowship applications for MRC and Wellcome Trust.
Chair of the Research Committee for Aberdeen Dental School.
Member of the Senior Academic Staff Group for Aberdeen Dental School.
Member of the Institute of Applied Health Sciences Research Governance and Quality Assurance Committee.
Academic lead for Oral Medicine
Coordinator of Principles of Disease for Year 1 Medicine
Coordinator of Dental Heath & Disease for Year 2-5 Dentistry