Myra Hosmillo


Research Associate




Human Norovirus, Organoids, Gastroenteritis, Filipino, Woman, Public Health

I am a woman, a proud Filipino and, I love Public Health. I am a keen scientist who is passionate at understanding the molecular mechanisms of “why” and “how” virus evades the host and replicate productively.

I find excitement in exploring the usefulness of the organoid culture system to understand virus infections. With all of these efforts, my ultimate aim together with the other members of our lab is to help design and develop potential therapeutics against viruses that cause gastroenteritis.

I have been working on viruses for over 12 years, in particular, the viruses that cause gastroenteritis in animals and humans. Gastroenteritis is also known as infectious diarrhoea, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. I first worked on animal viral gastroenteritis due to rotaviruses, caliciviruses, hepatitis E virus, toroviruses and coronavirus. Since moving to Cambridge, I joined the Goodfellow lab where we focus on human noroviruses (HuNoV), the leading cause of sporadic and acute gastroenteritis worldwide. HuNoV has been characteristically described as two-bucket disease because patients typically present severe diarrhoea and vomiting. The socio-economic burden as a result of HuNoV infection is estimated to cost over 60 billion dollars. Despite this, progress in developing drugs or vaccines has been slow due to the lack of detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms of HuNoV replication.

There are significant questions that remain unanswered because of the technical difficulties associated with currently available virus culture systems. We developed a more robust culture system for HuNoV using intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) derived from human intestinal organoids. This breakthrough has opened opportunities to better understand molecular mechanisms of viral replication. Recently, we demonstrated that replication of HuNoV in IECs results in interferon-induced transcriptional responses and that HuNoV replication in IECs is restricted by the interferon response (Hosmillo et al., MBio 2020). The modulation of this response through treatment of small-molecule inhibitors enhances HuNoV replication.

Aside from using human IECs-derived from intestinal organoids, we explore the aspects of norovirus life cycle using a HuNoV replicon system established in human gastric tumour cells. Using both the organoid-derived and replicon culture systems, we evaluate drug candidates, identified by collaborating companies and institutes, that could potentially prevent and/or treat HuNoV infection.

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StepWideStepWide showcases the profiles of early career cis and trans women researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK.

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This website

This website showcases the profiles of early career cis and trans women researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK, and affiliated institutions. It originated as part of StepWide, a leadership programme that aims to support the next generation of female researchers.

We hope that by making the expertise and stories of early career women researchers more visible (and searchable!), will highlight how much they contribute to the research that is done in the University and affiliated institutions.

Who is it for

This website is designed for a wide audience, be it other researchers looking for particular expertise for a collaboration; the media looking for experts; those that are simply curious about what type of research is done in Cambridge, or those trying to get a clearer idea of what a ‘typical’ woman researcher in this years old institution does (there is no ‘typical’!).

The StepWide programme

StepWide was designed by 3 postdocs at Cambridge (see below for more on Marta, Laura and Cemre). It aims to support female postdoctoral researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, from any discipline, who feel that taking a step into leadership is not for them. The programme is designed to suit both early and more senior postdocs, providing them with the skills to challenge the current ideas of what a leader is, learn how to raise their public profiles, as well as a close and supportive network of peer-to-peer female postdocs.

StepWide ran for the first time in 2019/2021, and we are currently running a new series of workshops in 2022/2023. We will post updates here when applications open for its next run.


Laura, Marta and Cemre (left to right on the photo) met at The Postdocs of Cambridge (PdOC) Society, at the University of Cambridge, UK. When the Researcher Development (RD) Pitch Competition was announced in late 2018, they felt this provided the ideal opportunity to work together to develop a leadership programme for women postdocs. They saw a gap in the current leadership RD provision, with a lack of opportunities that challenge current leadership views. Their proposal was successful and obtained funding for a one year pilot, giving rise to the StepWide programme.

Laura Fachal is a Senior Staff Scientist at Wellcome Sanger Institute. She earned her BS in Veterinary, MSc in Biotechnology and PhD from University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. She completed her postdoc at the Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology, University of Cambridge. She is also a Research Associate at Lucy Cavendish College.

Marta Costa is a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Zoology. She did her undergrad in Biology in Lisbon, Portugal, followed by an MSc in Neuroscience at UCL in London. She then moved to Cambridge for her PhD, followed by a postdoc. She is also a Research Associate at Lucy Cavendish College.

Cemre Ustunkaya was a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. She earned her BSc in Biological Science, followed by an MSc in Archaeometry at Middle East Technical University, Turkey. She later moved to Australia for her PhD in Archaeology at The University of Queensland. She is also a postdoc affiliate at Newnham College.


Thanks and funding

StepWide was funded by the Researcher Development Pitch Competition which included support from the Researcher Development Programme, The Postdocs of Cambridge (PdOC) Society, the Postdoc Academy, the Postdoc Chairs’ Network and the Careers Service at the University of Cambridge. We are very thankful for their support. We would also like to thank Alba Gómez for her expert support with the first version of the website, and to Arian Jamasb for redesigning and implementing the newest version of this website. Finally, we thank Natacha Wilson and Rebecca Nestor for the advice and support they provided for the development of the workshops.

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