Get to know your College: Dr Claire Jessup

Photo credit: Jonathan Barge, Flinders Foundation

What is your role and what does your work focus on?  

I am Head of the Immunomodulation Laboratory in FMC and also teach immunology into the Bachelor of Medical Science undergraduate degree. Our research looks at immune checkpoint molecules on T cells and how they can be triggered or blocked to treat Type 1 diabetes or cancer.

Where did you work before joining CMPH?  

Before my most recent return to Flinders, I was a researcher at the University of Adelaide looking at Pancreatic Islet Transplantation for Type 1 Diabetes with Professor Toby Coates.

What journey brought you to this point in your career?  

If I had to sum it up in one sentence? Biotechnology degree at Flinders, Honours, Research Assistant, PhD, Postdoc in Oxford, Postdoc in Adelaide, Research Fellowship at Flinders, two beautiful children, 9 month caravan trip around WA, cancer and most recently a return to research to establish the Immunomodulation Laboratory. It’s been a rollercoaster 🙂

What is something you love most about your work?  

Can I have two things? I love (1) the creativity; and (2) the collaborative nature of medical research. Synthesising new hypotheses to move the field forward is such a rewarding, and at times challenging, endeavour. Also, these days you need to have input from such a wide range of people – local, international and interstate colleagues, students, clinicians – relationships are so important and enrich our research. It’s a far more dynamic and interactive career than I ever could have imagined.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be? 

Hang in there.

If you had a super power what would it be?

Focussing on the positive. Also, I can powernap in unusual places.

How do you like to relax or spend your spare time?

My husband and I love spending time with the kids near a beach at any opportunity. Fishing on the Yorke Pensinsula is a favourite holiday even though neither of us eat fish!

Who is the most famous person you are related to?

My great-grandfather George Aubrey Jessup was a lecturer and lawyer who became the Registrar-General at the Lands Titles Office in SA in 1940s. He’s apparently a big deal in property law with many current Torrens title conveyancing practises based on his work.

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