Zara completed her PhD in 2011 with Professor Sir Ian Wilmut and Dr David Hay at the Medical Research Council-Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh. The project focused on the effect of post-translational modifications, SUMOylation, in hepatocyte differentiation and its subsequent manipulation to enhance hepatic endoderm function and viability.
On completion of her PhD, she returned to the U.A.E. to assist in the development of scientific research within the country, at which time she was offered one of the first research fellow positions at The Imperial College London Diabetes Centre; with the responsibility of expanding their research capabilities. Despite the progress made in developing the R&D platform and facilities at ICLDC, the infancy of research in the country limited her ability to develop an academic career. Consequently, in 2014 she accepted a postdoc position at INSERM U1193 in Hôpital Paul-Brousse, Villejuif. The project focussed on the development of GMP compatible conditions for liver organoid generation utilising 3D and co-culture techniques using induced pluripotent stem cell derived hepatocytes and cholangiocytes.
During this time, her expertise in the field of SUMOylation lead the development of a project focussed on SUMO, viruses and innate/intrinsic immunity at the University Paris Descartes. Today Zara’s research is focussed on elucidating non-canonical CD8+ T-cell responses restricted by HLA-E for human HIV vaccines, working with the HIV Group lead by Professor Tomas Hanke.
MxA Mediates SUMO-Induced Resistance to Vesicular Stomatitis Virus, Maarifi G, Hannoun Z, Geoffroy MC, El Asmi F, Zarrouk K, Nisole S, Blondel D, Chelbi-Alix MK. J Virol. 2016 Jul 15;90(14):6598-610
SUMOylation of HNF4α regulates protein stability and hepatocyte function, Zhou W, Hannoun Z, Jaffray E, Medine CN, Black JR, Greenhough S, Zhu L, Ross JA, Forbes S, Wilmut I, Iredale JP, Hay RT, Hay DC. J Cell Sci. 2012 Aug 1;125(Pt 15):3630-5.
Complete protection of the BALB/c and C57BL/6J mice against Ebola and Marburg virus lethal challenges by pan-filovirus T-cell epigraph vaccine.
Rahim MN. et al, (2019), PLoS pathogens, 15
Identification of novel HIV-1-derived HLA-E-binding peptides
Hannoun Z. et al, (2018), Immunology Letters, 202, 65 - 72
Environmental determinants of previtamin D synthesis in the United Arab Emirates
Buckley AJ. et al, (2017), Dermato-Endocrinology, 9, e1267079 - e1267079
MxA Mediates SUMO-Induced Resistance to Vesicular Stomatitis Virus
Maarifi G. et al, (2016), Journal of Virology, 90, 6598 - 6610
The potential of induced pluripotent stem cell derived hepatocytes
Hannoun Z. et al, (2016), Journal of Hepatology, 65, 182 - 199