Division of Infection and Immunity


Dr Eliza Gil

I am a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellow in the Division of Infection and Immunity at UCL and a registrar in Infectious Diseases & Microbiology. 

I am interested in the innate immune response to invasive pneumococcal infection and how this may contribute to disease.

Pneumococcal meningitis develops when Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria cross the barrier that protects the brain from the circulating blood (the blood-brain barrier). The presence of invading bacteria is detected and the blood-brain barrier is activated and becomes sticky, causing immune cells called neutrophils to bind and then cross from the blood into the brain.

Many stages of this response are not well understood: how the bacteria are detected, how the blood-brain barrier is activated, how the recruitment of neutrophils to fight the infection is controlled and how best it can be reduced. By understanding how these processes work we may be able to find ways to reduce the amount of tissue damage caused by the immune response to pneumococcal meningitis and therefore to improve the outcomes in people affected.

I was awarded an NIHR Academic Clinic Fellowship and spent six months examining the activation of the blood-brain barrier during pneumococcal meningitis, particularly the role of pericytes, which are cells that wrap around the blood-brain barrier, helping to maintain barrier function and regulating blood flow.

I have been awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship to continue this work.