Flak, Magdalena B.

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Magdalena B. Flak is a postdoctoral research fellow at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London and has recently been awarded a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowship.

Magdalena received her Diplom (equivalent to BSc +MSc) in Biology from the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany, and carried out her MSc research project in the laboratory of Prof. Rudolf Grosschedl at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology in Freiburg.

Her PhD research, under the guidance of Prof. Iain McNeish at Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL, investigated the interactions between host-cells and oncolytic adenovirus dl922-947 to improve efficacy of viral gene therapy and identify potential biomarkers in ovarian cancer.

After completing her PhD, Magdalena joined Richard Blumberg’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, USA, to study how the host and the resident community of intestinal microbes, the microbiota, affect each other in health and disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease. 

Summary of Research

The human microbiota, complex communities of trillions of microorganisms that colonise our bodies are, for most parts, benign commensals or even host-protective against pathogens and against commensals with a potential to turn pathogenic, so-called pathobionts. However, the host-microbiota homeostasis can be lost, for instance upon infection, inflammation or through antibiotics, the host immune response can become hypersensitive towards benign microbes and causing perturbations of the normal microbiota composition (dysbiosis).

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterised by joint inflammation, cartilage bone destruction. 

Interestingly, increasing evidence is emerging for associations between early stages of RA, outgrowth of pathobionts and dysbiosis, suggesting that they may be key contributors to chronic joint inflammation.

My current research at the Centre of Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology investigates the role of oral and intestinal pathobionts in the induction of dysbiosis and impairment of the resolution programme of inflammation in RA, using models of inflammatory arthritis as well as in patients with recently-diagnosed RA. 


  • American Society for Microbiology
  • British Pharmacological Society
  • FEBS Youth Travel Fellowship (2009)
  • Institute of Cancer Travel Bursary (2009)
  • Poster Prize at the Banff Inflammation Workshop (2015)
  • Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America’s (CCFA) Research Fellowship Award (2012-2015)
  • Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Individual Fellowship (2017-2019)

Key Publications

Tschurtschenthaler M., Adolph T.E., Ashcroft J.W., Niederreiter L., Bharti R., Saveljeva S., Bhattacharyya J, Flak M.B., Shih D.Q., Fuhler G.M., Parkes M., Kohno K., Iwawaki T., Janneke van der Woude C., Harding H.P., Smith A.M., Peppelenbosch M.P., Targan S.R., Ron D., Rosenstiel P., Blumberg R.S., Kaser A., Defective ATG16L1-mediated removal of IRE1a drives Crohn's disease-like ileitis. J Exp Med (2017), Feb;214(2): 401-422.

Wright R.D., Souza P.R., Flak M.B., Thedchanamoorthy P., Norling L.V., Cooper D., Galectin-3-null mice display defective neutrophil clearance during acute inflammation. J Leukoc Biol (2016), 2016 Oct 12. pii: jlb.3A0116-026RR 

Flak M.B., Neves J.F., Blumberg R.S., Welcome to the microgenderome. Science (2013), Mar 1;339(6123):1044-5

Baker K., Rath T., Flak M.B., Arthur J.C., Chen Z., Glickman J.N., Zlobec I., Karamitopoulou E., Stachler M.D., Odze R.D., Lencer W.I., Jobin C., Blumberg R.S., Neonatal Fc receptor expression in dendritic cells mediates protective immunity against colorectal cancer. Immunity (2013), Dec12;39(6):1095-107 

Adolph T.E., Tomczak M.F., Niederreiter L., Ko H.J., Böck J., Martinez Naves E., Glickman J.N., Tschurtschenthaler M., Hartwig J., Hosomi S., Flak M.B., Cusick J.L., Kohno K., Iwawaki T., Billmann-Born S., Raine T., Bharti R., Lucius R., Kweon M.N., Marciniak S.J., Choi A., Hagen S.J., Schreiber S., Rosenstiel P., Kaser A., Blumberg R.S., Paneth cells as a site of origin for intestinal inflammation. Nature (2013), Nov 14;503(7475):272-6

Niederreiter L., Fritz T. M., Adolph T.E., Krismer A.M., Offner F.A., Tschurtschenthaler M., Flak M.B., Hosomi S., Tomczak M.F., Kaneider N.C., Sarcevic E., Kempster S.L., Raine T., Esser D., Rosenstiel P., Kohno K., Iwawaki T., Tilg H., Blumberg R.S., Kaser A., ER stress transcription factor Xbp1 suppresses intestinal tumorigenesis and directs intestinal stem cells. J Exp Med (2013), Sep 23;210(10):2041-56

Archibald, K. M., Kulbe, H., Kwong, J., Chakravarty, P., Chaplin, T., Flak M.B., McNeish, I. A., Deen, S., Breton, J., Young, B. D., Balkwill, F.R., Sequential genetic change at the TP53 and chemokine receptor CXCR4 locus during transformation of human ovarian surface epithelium. Oncogene (2012), Nov 29;31(48): 4987-95

Chen L., Chen Z., Baker K., Halvorsen E.M., Flak M.B., Gerber G., Huang Y., Arthur J.C., Dery K.J., Nagaishi T., Beauchemin N., Holmes K.V., Shively J.E., Jobin C., Onderdonk A.B., Bry L., Higgins D.E., Secretory immunity and pathogen resistance are mediated by CEACAM1- short isoforms in intestinal T cells. Immunity (2012), Nov 16;37(5):930-46 

Connell, C.M., Shibata, A., Tookman, L.A., Archibald, K.M., Flak, M.B., Pirlo, K.J., Lockley, M., Wheatley, S.P., McNeish, I.A., Genomic DNA damage and ATR-Chk1 signaling determine oncolytic adenoviral efficacy in human ovarian cancer cells. J Clin Invest (2011), Apr;121(4): 1283-97

Kaser, A., Flak M.B., Tomczak, M.F., Blumberg, R.S., The unfolded protein response and its role in intestinal homeostasis and inflammation. Exp Cell Res (2011), Nov 15;317(19):2772-9

Flak M.B., Connell C.M., Chelala C., Archibald, K., Salako M.A., Pirlo K.J., Lockley, M.,

Wheatley, S.P., Balkwill, F.R., McNeish, I. A., p21 Promotes oncolytic adenoviral activity in ovarian cancer and is a potential biomarker. Mol Cancer (2010), Jul 3;9:175

Coughlan, L., Vallath, S., Saha, A., Flak, M., McNeish, I. A., Vassaux, G., Marshall, J. F., Hart, I. R., Thomas, G. J., In Vivo Retargeting of Adenovirus Type 5 to {alpha}v{beta}6 Integrin Results in Reduced Hepatotoxicity and Improved Tumor Uptake following Systemic Delivery.J Virol (2009), Jul;83(13):6416-28

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