Serena MacMillan

Department of Surgery

I am a 3 rd year PhD student at the Department of Surgery working on changing the blood group of human kidneys to improve waiting times for patients requiring a kidney transplantation. I have a background of cell and molecular biology but transitioned to more translational research with direct clinical applications for my PhD work and have massively enjoyed working in a field that works so closely with other scientists, clinicians and patients. I have also been hugely involved with public outreach and have presented my work at many charity and public events, including the Cambridge Festival.

A major restriction to transplantation is the requirement for ABO blood group compatibility between donor and recipient. Donor cells can present type A or B markers on their surface which must be the same as the recipient cell markers to prevent organ rejection. In my PhD work, I have used a technology called machine perfusion to pump human kidneys with blood outside the body and have added specific bacterial enzymes that remove these type A or B markers from the cells of the kidney. We have shown over 90% loss of these markers in as little as two hours, providing a way to convert human kidneys into universally transplantable organs. This paves the way for the first clinical studies and could revolutionise donor organ allocation worldwide.

Other 2023 award winners

Mohammed Ibraheem Ahmed

Stephen Ajadi

Adam Barton

Maria Donde

David Hardman

Rosana-Bristena Ionescu

Akaash Kumar

Ismail Sami

Yuqi Sun

Yizhou Yu

Caroline Zellmer

Previous award winners

Find out about the winners awarded in previous years: