Sir Henry Dale Fellows
For outstanding postdoctoral scientists wishing to build their own UK-based independent research career addressing an important biomedical question. This scheme is a partnership bringing together the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust.
Dr Liam Browne, University College London
Functional dissection of neural circuitry underlying pain signalling
Liam is a neuroscientist who is interested in the fundamental mechanisms of nociception and pain. He uses advanced optical and genetic tools with electrophysiology to address how stimuli are encoded and processed by the spinal cord. During this Fellowship he aims to establish how specific cells guide protective behaviours and examine how these processes are transformed in disease.
Dr Rebecca Burton, University of Oxford
Optical interrogation of sub-cellular cardiac signalling in atrial and sino-atrial node arrhythmias at high spatiotemporal resolution
Rebecca is a physiologist with an interest in applying bioengineering methods to answer questions about causes and consequences of arrhythmias. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most frequently encountered arrhythmia, associated with increased morbidity and mortality. There are approximately 4.5 million Europeans suffering from AF. Research has suggested an important role for calcium dysregulation in AF. To improve our mechanistic understanding, Rebecca proposes a multidisciplinary approach, ranging from conventional electrophysiology to state-of-the-art tissue engineering and optogenetics and development of novel high-speed optical microscopy techniques. The results will allow a better understanding of the basic biological mechanisms of sub-cellular calcium signalling and the aetiology of AF directly relevant in the development of new treatment therapies.
Dr Helge Dorfmueller, University of Dundee
Functional and structural studies of the streptococcal virulence factor Group A carbohydrate biosynthesis pathway
Helge is a glycobiologist who focuses on exploring how carbohydrates are synthesised by the human-exclusive pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. These bacteria cause common infections such as tonsillitis (‘strep throat’). Importantly, mild infections can develop into life-threating diseases and current antibiotics are not sufficient to eradicate all mild and severe infections. Helge’s research is aimed at uncovering the molecular mechanism underlying the biosynthesis of a novel bacterial virulence factor. He uses a multidisciplinary approach, combining molecular microbiology, enzymology, structural biology and inhibitor screening. This research forms the basis to ultimately develop inhibitors to prevent severe streptococcal infections in humans.
Dr Paul Fogg, University of York
Gene transfer agents: prevalence, biology and impact on bacterial genetic diversity
Rapid bacterial evolution is a major public health concern, and limiting the exchange of virulence or antimicrobial-resistant genes between bacteria is an acute challenge for modern medicine. Paul is interested in the molecular mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer, in particular gene transfer agents (GTAs). GTAs are unusual viruses of bacteria with the potential to move any gene from one bacterium to another at extraordinary frequencies, yet there are huge gaps in our knowledge of GTA biology. Paul’s research aims to determine the fundamental mechanisms of GTA biology, their prevalence in pathogens and their impact on bacterial evolution.
Dr Ben Longdon, University of Exeter
The evolutionary and mechanistic basis of virus host shifts
Ben’s research aims to understand what allows a virus to jump into a new host species and therefore potentially lead to the emergence of a new disease. Ben is based at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus, where he uses insects and viruses as models to address fundamental questions about pathogen host shifts. He is investigating the factors that determine why viruses can infect some hosts but not others, and is examining how host adaptation and host range can affect the propensity of a virus to host shift.
Dr Andrew MacAskill, University College London
Encoding emotion in neural circuitry
Andrew’s work aims to understand how different neurons in the brain communicate with each other to allow them to encode emotional behaviours. Problems with this communication underlie the vast majority of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders, and so his aim is to find novel ways to combat these disorders by gaining a greater understanding of the processes that they destroy. To achieve this, Andrew uses a combination of in vivo and in vitro viral expression, two-photon microscopy, optogenetics, electrophysiology and behavioural assays to identify and characterise the synaptic, cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying the generation of emotional behaviour.
Dr Marta Polak, University of Southampton
Targeting human Langerhans cells to induce long-lasting tolerance in allergy
Marta is an immunologist interested in how immune responses to allergens are initiated and regulated in human skin. Allergy is a chronic disease that is expected to affect more than 40 per cent of all Europeans in 10 years’ time. Recent studies demonstrate that skin can be successfully used as a gateway for therapeutic interventions aimed at improving the body’s immune defences. Marta will combine high-power computing with extensive laboratory analysis of patient samples to answer two important questions: how does the skin allergy develop in early life, and how can we use transcutaneous therapy to deliver allergy treatment and prevention?
Dr Amy Saunders, University of Manchester
The role of CD200R1 signalling in regulating skin inflammation
Amy is an immunologist studying inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis. Her research investigates mechanisms that prevent a healthy skin immune system from responding to harmless environmental substances. Her hypothesis is that a failure of such regulatory mechanisms underlies inflammatory skin diseases. CD200R1 is a regulatory protein on the surface of many types of immune cells. Amy’s work has shown that this protein plays an important role in regulating immune responses in skin and her current research aims to understand how this regulation occurs, and whether manipulating this protein represents a beneficial therapeutic strategy for inflammatory skin disease.
Dr Hayley Sharpe, University of Cambridge
Receptor tyrosine phosphatases in physiology and disease
Hayley is a cell biologist based at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. Her aim is to investigate the function and regulation of the receptor family of tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs). Dysregulation of protein tyrosine phosphorylation is linked to developmental abnormalities and diseases such as cancer. Her research will focus on revealing the role of plasma membrane RPTPs in sensing the extracellular environment to influence cell behaviour. She uses genetics, functional proteomics and cell-based assays to reveal substrates and signalling pathways controlled by RPTPs in physiology and disease.
Dr Benjamin Steventon, University of Cambridge
Gene expression heterogeneity in the maintenance and coordinated differentiation of neuromesodermal progenitors in vivo
Ben is interested in how the embryo develops from a round ball of cells into an elongated body axis. In vertebrates, stem cells called neuromesodermal progenitors continually self-renew and differentiate to provide a continued source of spinal cord and muscle progenitor cells. How the processes of self-renewal and differentiation are precisely balanced during development and growth is an essential question in biology. Ben aims to understand the mechanisms that control this balance by studying the dynamics of neuromesodermal cells across a range of organisms that display differences in the amount of growth which occurs together with axis elongation.
Dr Lucy Weinert, University of Cambridge
Investigating the link between genome reduction and pathogenicity using an emerging zoonotic pathogen
Lucy is an evolutionary biologist whose research aims to understand why and how bacteria become pathogens. One longstanding observation is that bacterial pathogens often have smaller genomes and fewer genes than their nearest non-pathogenic relatives. Using the bacterium Streptococcus suis as a model system, Lucy’s laboratory will sample whole genomes of global populations, develop new statistical models and collate functional data in order to conduct the first large-scale tests of the various hypotheses linking genome reduction and pathogenicity. The long-term goals of this research are to forecast pathogen emergence, to develop preventative strategies, and to improve treatments.
Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
BEYOND cancer: using big data to identify opportunities for cardiovascular disease prevention after cancer
Krishnan is a statistical epidemiologist interested in harnessing large-scale electronic healthcare data to answer questions about causes and consequences of cancer. There are more than 2 million cancer survivors in the UK and tens of millions worldwide. The long-term cardiovascular health of these individuals is of concern, given potential cardiotoxicities of cancer treatments. Krishnan aims to bring together multiple ‘big data’ sources containing information on cancer diagnoses and treatments and long-term health outcomes. He will quantify excess risks of cardiovascular diseases among cancer survivors, develop prediction tools to identify those at highest risk, and investigate opportunities for better use of preventative therapies.
Dr Thomas Clarke, Imperial College London
Defining the members of the microbiota that regulate systemic immunity and promote host resistance to infection
Thomas’s research aims to determine how the microbiota regulates the immune system and how this promotes host resistance to infection. Multicellular organisms are colonised by large communities of symbiotic bacteria (the microbiota), which are a major regulator of host immunity. Microbiota disruption has been linked to diseases and conditions including cancer, autoimmunity, and reduced host defence to infection. Thomas is aiming to decipher the language of communication between the immune system and microbiota, which is currently poorly understood. The goal of this is to harness the power of the microbiota as a novel way to combat infections.
Dr Jesmond Dalli, Queen Mary, University of London
Statin-triggered novel resolvins as innovative resolution-based therapeutics in arthritis
Jesmond’s research efforts are focused on the structural elucidation of omega-3 fatty acid-derived bioactive mediators, assessing their cellular targets and the molecular mechanisms they activate in the resolution of inflammation. Of particular interest is a new family of mediators that he has identified and termed thirteen series resolvins. These mediators potently regulate the immune response limiting unwanted side effects. Jesmond’s aim is to determine how the production of these protective molecules becomes dysregulated in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, he aims to develop ways to replenish their endogenous levels as well as to use these molecules as biotemplates for the development of new therapeutics.
Dr Rhian Daniel, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Statistical methods for studying multidimensional mediators of genetic associations with chronic diseases
Rhian is a statistician with a particular interest in methods for making inferences about cause-effect relationships. Recent advances in omics technologies, which have dramatically changed the nature and scale of observational data, require corresponding developments in statistical methods in order to make sense of this new wealth of information. By focusing on methods for causal mediation analysis and extending them to handle the dimensionality and complexity of proteomic and metabolomic mediators, Rhian aims to be able to answer questions such as: which of the metabolic subtypes of LDL cholesterol lie on the strongest causal pathways from established CVD genes to disease?
Dr Chiara Francavilla, University of Manchester
Exploring how endocytic recycling of receptor tyrosine kinases specifies cellular responses
Chiara is a cell biologist who focuses on exploring how the trafficking of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) from and to the plasma membrane can elicit specific cellular responses. She uses functional proteomics, which integrates quantitative mass-spectrometry-based proteomics, bioinformatics analysis, functional assays and imaging techniques. Her research is aimed at uncovering the molecular mechanisms underlying the intracellular trafficking of RTKs, resultant signalling specificity, and downstream outputs during development and cancer progression. The final goal is to identify and characterise proteins with key roles in RTK signalling and trafficking that can be targeted for intervention in human diseases.
Dr Christos Gkogkas, University of Edinburgh
Translational control of neuronal mRNAs in autism spectrum disorders
Christos is a molecular neurobiologist based at the Centre for Integrative Physiology and the Patrick Wild Centre at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on determining how regulation of gene expression, at the level of protein synthesis, in different neuronal cell types can impinge upon neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Christos’s group applies diverse biochemical and electrophysiological imaging and behavioural approaches in transgenic rodents to elucidate the neurobiological basis of ‘autism-like’ phenotypes. By studying the neurobiological underpinnings of ASD, Christos aims to identify novel therapeutic avenues for ASD.
Dr Joe Grove, University College London
Characterising viral antibody evasion by conformational masking
For a virus to maintain infection it must spread from one cell to another. Our immune system produces antibodies that bind to viruses and prevent this. However, viruses have evolved strategies to evade antibodies, allowing them to prevail despite our immune response. Joe is investigating conformational masking - an evasion strategy that essentially cloaks viruses from recognition by antibodies. He is using basic virology, patient samples and super-resolution microscopy to study conformational masking by hepatitis C and HIV. Through an understanding of such immune countermeasures we may be able to design therapeutic or vaccine-based interventions that empower the human immune response.
Dr Svetlana Khoronenkova, University of Cambridge
Signalling of DNA single-strand breaks and links to neurodegeneration
Svetlana is a biochemist with interests in DNA damage signalling and repair, also known as the DNA damage response. The cellular response to DNA damage is crucial in living cells that need to repair thousands of DNA lesions each day. The majority of these lesions arise from the intrinsic chemical instability of DNA, and defects in repair lead to human diseases such as cancers and neurodegeneration. Svetlana will use a wide variety of biochemical and molecular biological techniques to expand our understanding of the links between deficiencies in the DNA damage response and the molecular nature of progressive neurological diseases.
Dr Elisa Laurenti, University of Cambridge
Characterisation of inflammation-driven responses in human haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells
Elisa is a molecular and cellular biologist who studies how blood is formed in humans. Her main focus is to understand the molecular regulation of haematopoietic stem cells, the cells responsible for the continuous production of blood throughout a lifetime. After having described the molecular circuitry of these cells in normal steady-state conditions, she now aims to determine how they react to stress, in particular to inflammation. Determining which inflammatory signals act directly on human haematopoietic stem cells, and how, will be important for developing new therapies aimed at palliating the impaired blood production seen in chronic inflammation.
Dr Joo-Hyeon Lee, University of Cambridge
Regulatory signalling networks between stem and niche cells in lung regeneration
Joo-Hyeon’s research aims to understand the interplay between stem and niche cells for lineage specification of adult stem cells in normal and diseased lungs. Signalling between stem cells and stromal cells is essential for organogenesis and adult tissue maintenance, but is poorly understood in the context of lung repair and regeneration. She will focus on identifying the key stem-stromal cell interactions and regulatory networks that allow for proper lung cell differentiation and injury repair using in vivo genetic mouse models and an in vitro organoid co-culture system that she has developed. This work will shed light on the repair mechanisms responding to regional damages along the pulmonary axis.
Dr Katrina Lythgoe, University of Oxford
From molecules to pandemics: multi-level adaptation of human chronic viruses
Katrina works on the evolutionary epidemiology of chronic viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. She is particularly interested in disentangling the often-conflicting selection pressures that occur at the within- and among-host scales, and how these pressures impact the evolution of these viruses in the face of different intervention strategies. She uses a range of methods including mathematical modelling, stochastic simulations, and the analysis of deep-sequencing data. Previously, Katrina held a Wellcome Trust Career Re-entry Fellowship, and prior to her return to research she was the Editor of Trends in Ecology & Evolution for seven years.
Dr Sara Macias-Ribela, University of Edinburgh
Antiviral defence mechanisms: small RNAs versus interferon pathway
Sara is an RNA biologist who focuses on understanding the control of the innate immune response in mammalian cells, particularly the cellular responses to dsRNA, which is a common intermediate of viral replication. Sara’s main interests are to understand from the molecular and cellular level how differentiated and pluripotent cells employ different mechanisms to fight viral infections. These different cellular models will be used to study the cross-talk between the interferon and the small RNA pathway as two alternative antiviral mechanisms.
Dr Tom McAdams, King’s College London
Elucidating the aetiology of psychopathology: taking a multigenerational approach to genetically informative data
Tom’s research falls into the fields of developmental psychopathology, quantitative genetics, and psychiatric epidemiology. He is interested in the use of genetically informative datasets to understand the intergenerational transmission of psychopathology - how and why mental health problems run in families. Previously Tom has used children-of-twins datasets to study the impact of parental depression and anxiety on child emotional development. During his Fellowship Tom will be further developing the statistical models used to analyse such data. He will also extend his work into population databases and multigenerational genomic datasets in order to better understand the mechanisms underlying intergenerational transmission.
Dr Maike de la Roche, University of Cambridge
Hedgehog signalling in T cell effector and memory function in vivo
Maike is a vet and immunologist based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. She is interested in CD8 T cells, which protect the body against infection with intracellular pathogens and tumours. Maike’s research aims to elucidate the role of the developmental Hedgehog signalling pathway in CD8 T-cell effector and memory cell differentiation, maintenance and function during infection and tumorigenesis. Advances in this field will greatly benefit therapeutic approaches against infection as well as immunotherapy in cancer patients.
Dr Philip Spence, University of Edinburgh
Monocyte and macrophage function in malaria disease severity
Phil is a malariologist who wants to understand how children acquire immunity to severe malaria early in life. Resistance to severe disease is frequently observed after just one or two infections, and does not correlate with a child’s ability to control parasite density. Immunity to severe malaria is therefore an acquired mechanism of disease tolerance. Phil’s group at the University of Edinburgh are asking whether malaria can rewire the innate immune system to reduce inflammation and generate disease resistance. By studying mechanisms of innate immunity to malaria, the group aim to develop novel anti-disease vaccines.
Dr Bernhard Staresina, University of Birmingham
Episodic memory during offline periods
Bernhard’s research focuses on episodic memory, our intriguing ability to mentally travel back in time and re-experience past events and experiences in great detail. Situated at the interface of neuroscience and experimental psychology, Bernhard uses functional neuroimaging in conjunction with electrophysiological recording techniques such as intracranial electroencephalography to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying episodic memory formation and retrieval. Bernhard’s current projects aim to better understand how the brain solidifies previous experiences while we sleep. Gaining experimental control over such ‘offline periods’ holds great promise for opening a new window to targeted memory enhancement and therapeutic intervention.
Dr Timothy Witney, University College London
Detecting tumour resistance to treatment with positron emission tomography
Tim’s research focuses on the discovery and development of novel imaging methods to measure tumour resistance to therapy. The majority of cancer deaths result from ineffective treatment of metastatic disease due to either acquired or innate resistance to anti-cancer drugs. There is therefore an urgent unmet clinical need to develop biomarkers that can sensitively detect resistance to therapy early in a patient’s treatment cycle. The early detection of treatment failure by noninvasive imaging will hopefully enable the selection of different drugs and more effective treatments, with the potential to substantially improve outcomes in this disease.
Dr Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai, University of Oxford
Molecular understanding of protein-mediated cell-cell fusion in fertilisation, development and viral spread using structural hybrid approach
Tzviya is a structural biologist interested in proteins that mediate the merging of membranes. Membrane fusion is a central process for all eukaryotic cells. Extracellular fusion that is cell-cell fusion is a crucial step in the initiation and development of multicellular organisms as well as maintaining homeostasis. Tzviya’s project objective is an integrative structural characterisation of cell-cell fusion. The core technique to be applied is cryo-electron microscopy complemented by super-resolution fluorescence microscopy and crystallography. Her study aims to pave the way for molecular intervention in plasma membrane fusion, e.g. for designing new infertility treatments and contraception.
Dr Maria Alcolea, University of Cambridge
Stem cell fate and plasticity in oesophageal wound healing
Maria is a cell biologist who focuses on understanding the behaviour of epithelial stem and progenitor cells. She uses the mouse oesophagus as a model to unveil the basic rules governing cell fate. Maria’s work in the field has revealed how normal cell behaviour is drastically altered in response to injury. More recently she has shown how progenitor cells alter and adapt their dynamics as a result of pre-carcinogenic mutations, reflecting a remarkable epithelial plasticity. Maria’s main interests are in investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying this plastic cell behaviour, and the potential implications for early cancer development.
Dr Oliver Bannard, University of Oxford
Exploring how the germinal centre cellular programme promotes efficient affinity maturation
Oliver is a cellular immunologist based at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford. His research is aimed at determining some of the biological mechanisms employed by germinal centre B cells for promoting efficient antibody affinity maturation. Germinal centres are highly-dynamic, tightly-regulated environments in which B cells repeatedly mutate their immunoglobulin genes and undergo selection based upon the encoded membrane antibody’s ability to bind and capture antigen. Oliver aims to learn how these processes are controlled. It is hoped that advances in this field will facilitate the rational design of better vaccines and immunotherapies.
Dr Jimena Berni, University of Cambridge
Hox genes and the diversification of neuronal circuits
Jimena’s research focuses on the general area of developmental neuroscience. In particular she investigates the relationship between neuronal circuits and behaviour, with emphasis on the diversification of circuits that control region-specific movements along the body axis. Specifically, Jimena studies the role of evolutionarily conserved Hox genes in specifying different neuronal networks and their assembly during development. This work will shed light on the mechanism and processes that generate regional specialisation of structure and function in the central nervous system.
Dr Kok-Lung (Chris) Chan, University of Sussex
Molecular basis of inheritable DNA lesions on genome transformation
Chris is a cell biologist whose group is based in the MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre at the University of Sussex. His research focuses on understanding how genome integrity is maintained and restored under replication stress. Replication stress not only causes DNA damage during replication but also interferes with the timely completion of replication, which may result in the transmission of damaged genetic material into offspring cells. His main goal is to elucidate the mechanism(s) of genome rearrangements caused by replication stress induced DNA lesions, and ultimately develop preventative medicine and targeting therapy for cancers.
Dr Maria Christophorou, University of Edinburgh
Protein citrullination in cell physiology and disease
Maria is a biomedical scientist who has previously worked on tumour suppression, pluripotency and chromatin biology. She is interested in understanding protein regulation by post-translational modification, and her current research focuses on citrullination, a poorly-studied post-translational amino acid conversion. Abnormal citrullination is a pathological feature of diseases such as autoimmunity, neurodegeneration and cancer. Maria is using her Fellowship to set up an independent laboratory at the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine to study the molecular events that control citrullination, how it modulates protein function, and its impact on cell physiology and disease.
Dr Paul Conduit, University of Cambridge
Investigating the spatiotemporal regulation of microtubule nucleation in Drosophila
Paul is a cell biologist based in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, who wants to understand how microtubule formation is regulated in space and time. Microtubules are polarised polymers that have a wide range of important roles in cells, including organising and transporting intracellular particles, vesicles and organelles, and separating duplicated chromosomes during mitosis. Paul uses a combination of Drosophila genetics and live cell imaging to study microtubule formation at different microtubule organising centres (MTOCs) in different cell types. He aims to determine how MTOCs form and how they recruit the protein complexes required to catalyse microtubule formation.
Dr Julia Cordero, University of Glasgow
Regulation of stem cell function during tissue homeostasis and transformation
Julia is a developmental biologist and geneticist who combines work on the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and mammalian model systems to understand the regulation of stem cells during tissue homeostasis and transformation. Using the adult Drosophila midgut, Julia wants to understand how cell-autonomous and niche-derived signals integrate to regulate stem cell proliferation in response to damage, as well as during tumorigenesis of adult self-renewing epithelia. By translating results from the fly into suitable mammalian paradigms, Julia aims to identify conserved mechanisms involved in the regulation of tissue homeostasis, which will be of broad benefit to our understanding of human health and disease.
Dr Rebecca Corrigan, University of Sheffield
Functional characterisation of (p)ppGpp in Staphylococcus aureus: essential messengers required for stress adaption and survival
Rebecca is a molecular microbiologist interested in the study of the cell-signalling and virulence mechanisms of the Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Her recent work has led to the development of a genome-wide approach to analyse nucleotide-protein interactions. Rebecca aims to use this methodology, in conjunction with biochemical assays, to identify binding targets for (p)ppGpp, nucleotides that are involved in promoting persistent and recurrent infections. The mapping of the (p)ppGpp signalling network will provide a greater understanding of how S. aureus can persist in the human host, enabling rational drug design.
Dr Nick Croucher, Imperial College London
Evolutionary dynamics underlying pneumococcal genomic diversity
Nick is a microbiologist interested in pneumococcus, a bacterium usually harmlessly carried in the nasopharynx of many children that is also a common cause of pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis in infants and the elderly. These bacteria vary extensively in the frequency with which they cause disease and their susceptibility to antibiotics and vaccine-induced immunity. Nick’s project aims to understand the evolutionary processes that create this diversity through combining information from genomics, molecular microbiology and mathematical modelling. The ultimate goal is to understand how bacterial pathogens are likely to respond to changes in the way we treat or prevent disease.
Dr Owen Davies, Newcastle University
The molecular structure and function of the human synaptonemal complex in meiosis
Owen’s research aims to uncover the molecular basis of chromosome synapsis and genetic exchange during mammalian meiosis. In the first meiotic division, homologous chromosome pairs are ‘zipped’ tightly together along their entire length by the synaptonemal complex, a large protein assembly that provides the three-dimensional framework for meiotic recombination and crossing over. Through a biochemical and structural biology approach, Owen aims to solve the molecular structure of the synaptonemal complex and establish how it interacts with and directs the recombination machinery. This work will reveal the molecular details of meiotic chromosome synapsis and crossing over, and ultimately how defects in these processes lead to infertility, miscarriage and aneuploidy.
Dr Philip Elks, University of Sheffield
Manipulation of host hypoxia signalling as a therapeutic strategy for mycobacterial infection
Phil’s research aims to understand the host innate immune response to mycobacterial infection (the causative bacteria of tuberculosis), in order to identify novel therapeutic strategies that may be effective against emerging drug-resistant strains. Specifically, he has focused on host-derived hypoxia signalling and has demonstrated that manipulation of this signalling system can help the host tackle infection. His lab uses a zebrafish model of mycobacterial infection to gain in vivo insights into the underlying mechanisms of hypoxia signalling regulation during infection. Phil’s goal is to determine whether targeting hypoxia signalling could be used as an effective future TB therapy.
Dr Sarah Flanagan, University of Exeter
Applying the power of genetics to increase knowledge of underlying mechanisms of recessively-inherited congenital hyperinsulinism
Sarah is a molecular geneticist whose research focuses on monogenic disorders of insulin secretion. Her primary interest is in understanding the genetic basis of congenital hyperinsulinism, a severe, potentially devastating disorder characterised by the inappropriate secretion of insulin despite hypoglycaemia. Using a combination of homozygosity mapping studies and next-generation sequencing, Sarah aims to identify novel disease genes for congenital hyperinsulinism in the 60 per cent of patients currently without a genetic diagnosis. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of this disease will provide vital novel insights into beta-cell physiology and insulin secretion.
Dr Rachel Freathy, University of Exeter
Using genetics to understand how the maternal intrauterine environment influences fetal growth
Rachel aims to understand why some babies grow very large in utero while others are born very small. Her research uses information on genetic variations in large studies of mothers and their babies to separate true causal effects of the maternal environment from mere correlations. A better understanding of the factors that influence birth weight should enable targeted intervention to improve pregnancy management for healthy fetal growth.
Dr Elizabeth Fullam, University of Warwick
Understanding the role of sugar transporters in Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Liz is currently working in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick. Her research focuses on understanding nutrient uptake and metabolism in Mycobacterium tuberculosis with the hope that this will lead to the development of novel therapeutic or diagnostic strategies. To achieve this, her lab is bringing together a range of biochemical, chemical and genetic approaches to determine the molecular mechanisms involved in the transport processes of essential nutrients by this pathogenic organism.
Dr Matthew Gold, University College London
Local cyclic AMP signalling in synaptic plasticity
Matthew is a structural neurobiologist who is interested in understanding how second messengers control changes in synaptic connections between neurons that are fundamental to learning. Second messengers, including cyclic AMP, can alter synaptic strength in different ways within a single neuron depending on the primary stimulus. Matthew’s laboratory uses methods from structural biology, synthetic biology and electrophysiology to understand how neuronal proteins are organised at the molecular level to respond to local rises in second messengers. In this way, his laboratory aims to fill fundamental gaps in knowledge at a molecular level that is informative for pharmaceutical development.
Dr John Grainger, University of Manchester
Understanding the role and consequences of systemic monocyte conditioning during infection
John is an immunologist interested in mechanisms regulating inflammatory cells, in particular monocytes. Based at the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR), University of Manchester, his group uses disease models alongside patient samples to explore inflammatory cell education during infection. Recently John’s work has focused on understanding how signals from the gut and lung instruct developing monocytes in the bone marrow following pathogen challenge and the consequences of this ‘systemic’ training. By identifying novel factors involved in this dialogue John aims to identify targets to modulate aberrantly activated inflammatory cells in chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) or allergies.
Dr Matthew Hepworth, University of Manchester
Innate immune regulation of pathologic CD4+ T-cell responses in inflammatory disease
Matt is an immunologist who aims to understand how inflammation and immunity are orchestrated at mucosal barrier sites such as the gastrointestinal tract and lung. At the University of Manchester his group uses disease models and patient-derived samples to determine how a rare population of immune cells, known as innate lymphoid cells, act to control the magnitude of inflammatory immune responses towards foreign organisms and allergens. A greater understanding of how innate immune pathways regulate inflammation at mucosal barrier sites will inform the development of novel therapeutics to treat chronic human diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
Dr Clare Howarth, University of Sheffield
The role of astrocytes in neurovascular coupling in health and ageing
Clare is a neuroscientist with an interest in neurovascular coupling. It is critical for normal brain function that neural energy demands are met. Neural activity leads to a local increase in cerebral blood flow, a relationship termed neurovascular coupling. The mechanisms underlying this relationship are incompletely understood but involve many cell types including neurons, glia, and vascular cells. Based at the University of Sheffield, Clare’s laboratory uses imaging techniques ranging from the cellular level (multiphoton laser-scanning microscopy) to the whole brain (fMRI) to investigate how astrocytes are involved in neurovascular coupling and how this relationship changes in ageing.
Dr Meritxell Huch, University of Cambridge
Understanding the molecular mechanisms of adult live regeneration
Meritxell is a stem cell biologist with a background in cancer and tissue regeneration. Stem cells are required for tissue homeostasis and tissue repair. At the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, Meritxell and her team are focused on gaining further understanding of the molecular mechanism by which stem cells sense tissue damage and start proliferating to repair the injured tissue. By gaining further insight into these repair mechanisms, Meritxell aims to better understand the basics of cancer, because during tumour initiation, similar processes have to be activated to instruct the resting cells to start proliferating.
Dr Daniel Lawson, University of Bristol
Statistical methodology for population genetics inference from massive datasets with applications in epidemiology
Daniel's research focuses on problems arising from the volume of genetics data currently available. He uses and develops tools in statistics and machine learning to apply powerful genetics models at scale. His research examines population structure and its interaction with genomic selection. This provides insight into both the genetic history of people and the functional roles that genes may play in populations experiencing different environments. His research helps us to understand the information provided by massive-scale analyses, such as genome-wide association studies, as well as trying to identify genetic variants causing disease.
Dr Gloria Lopez-Castejon, University of Manchester
How regulation of deubiquitination by danger signals modulates and orchestrates inflammasome activation
Gloria is a molecular immunologist studying fundamental mechanisms of inflammation. Her group is based at the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research and she is interested in the regulation of the inflammasome, a molecular complex required for the release of potent pro-inflammatory mediators, such as interleukin-1β. Her research investigates the relationship between danger signals, deubiquitinases (DUBs) and inflammasome activation in macrophages to establish novel roles for DUBs in the inflammatory process and, consequently, in inflammatory pathologies.
Dr Tamar Makin, University of Oxford
Pushing the boundaries of human brain plasticity through sensory deprivation and learning
Tamar is based at the FMRIB, the University of Oxford’s neuroimaging centre. Her ultimate aim is to characterise and extend the boundaries of plasticity in the adult human brain, by combining experimental approaches from neuroscience, experimental psychology and rehabilitation. Her work addresses both scientific and clinical needs to better understand the relationship between two drivers of brain plasticity: input loss and altered behaviour. Her main clinical model is arm amputation, which introduces sensory deprivation, adaptive motor behaviour and phantom pain. Based on her experimental work, Tamar hopes to harness these drivers to enhance adaptive plasticity and reverse maladaptive processes in the clinic.
Dr Victoria Male, University College London
Natural killer cell subsets in the liver: phenotype, function and role in obesity-induced liver disease
Victoria is an immunologist who is interested in the development and functions of natural killer (NK) cells and their relatives. A special subset of liver-specific NK cells has recently been identified in mice. Victoria aims to investigate whether these cells are also present in the human liver, and to determine their functions in health and disease. In particular, she is interested in whether they have a role in the development and progression of the obesity-associated liver disease non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which is thought to affect as many as five per cent of adults in the UK.
Dr Emily Osterweil, University of Edinburgh
Differential regulation of protein synthesis in synaptic plasticity and autism spectrum disorders with associated intellectual disability
Emily is a cellular neuroscientist interested in understanding how neurons use de novo protein synthesis to alter the strength of individual synapses. Her work is focused on isolating specific mRNAs that are newly translated in response to synaptic stimulation, in part using newly developed TRAP and RNA-seq technologies. She also investigates the interplay between the ERK and mTOR signalling pathways, which function in translation control. Emily’s goal is to understand how the synthesis of new proteins supports both the strengthening and weakening of synapses, and how this goes awry in autism-linked neurodevelopmental disorders.
Dr Bryn Owen, Imperial College London
Female infertility: deciphering the mechanisms that perturb ERa signalling in the hypothalamus
Bryn is a molecular endocrinologist with training in nuclear hormone receptor signalling and the hypothalamic pathways that govern female reproductive function. Using model systems, he is investigating how the cellular receptor for oestrogen controls the timing and progression of the ovulatory cycle. He is also interested in understanding how this control is lost during nutritional challenges such as obesity and anorexia. Ultimately, Bryn aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of metabolic sub-fertility in women.
Dr Ede Rancz, the Francis Crick Institute
Visuo-spatial processing in retrosplenial cortex
Ede is a neuroscientist with a background in synaptic physiology, single-cell computation and systems-level sensory processing. His laboratory focuses on the retrosplenial cortex of mice using in vivo patch clamping, calcium imaging, rabies-based connectivity mapping and behavioural techniques aiming to elucidate how internally generated models interact with external sensory stimuli to guide behaviour.
Dr Anthony Roberts, Birkbeck, University of London
Mechanisms and decisions in microtubule-based intracellular transport
Anthony's research focuses on the action of motor proteins; specialised proteins that travel inside cells and help them organise their contents, move, divide and respond to signals. His group within the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology at Birkbeck/University College London uses structural biology and single-molecule techniques to ask mechanistic questions, such as: how do motor proteins move? How are they regulated in living cells? How and why does their malfunction give rise to human diseases such as neurodegeneration?
Dr Rahul Roychoudhuri, Babraham Institute
Regulation of immune function by the transcription factor BACH2
Rahul’s research aims to understand how a class of proteins called transcription factors guide the behaviour of T lymphocytes. T lymphocytes powerfully regulate immune function by differentiating into specialised cellular lineages that either drive or constrain immune reactions. Based at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, Rahul’s group applies diverse molecular biology, cellular immunology and functional genomics approaches to investigate how transcription factors regulate lymphocyte behaviour in the context of infections, autoimmunity and cancer. This research aims to identify targets for a new class of therapies that will powerfully manipulate immune function in patients with autoimmunity, chronic infection and cancer.
Dr Jerome Sallet, University of Oxford
Neuroethology of social decisions in primates
Jerome is a cognitive neuroscientist with a background in electrophysiology, neuroanatomy and neuroimaging. Through the complementarity of these techniques he is studying the structure and function of neuronal circuits supporting decision process. His current research looks more specifically at how social information is learned and encoded in the brain - from the neuronal level to the network level - to guide our behaviour. Understanding the role that neural circuits play in normal social cognition will not only inform theories in neuroscience, but will be an essential step to discover the neural mechanisms underlying disorders characterised by alteration of socio-cognitive processes.
Dr Philipp Voigt, University of Edinburgh
Roles of symmetric and asymmetric histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation in gene repression and epigenetic inheritance
Philipp is a biochemist and cell biologist who is interested in understanding how post-translational modifications of histone proteins regulate gene expression. His research particularly focuses on the molecular mechanisms of the repressive histone mark H3 lysine 27 methylation. By combining biochemical and microscopy-based approaches, his lab aims to determine how this mark controls the expression of developmental genes in embryonic stem cells and to clarify whether this mark can serve as an epigenetic signal that can pass on information to daughter cells.
Dr Caswell Barry, University College London
Role of novelty and uncertainty in memory formation: neural mechanisms
Caswell is a neuroscientist whose goal is to build a computational understanding of the neural basis of memory. This will entail explaining how a network of neurons is able to store, update and retrieve information about the world and events that happen within it. To this end, Caswell studies spatial memory and its representation in the hippocampal formation. His lab uses tools such as computational modelling and optogenetic manipulations to understand how the processes of memory formation and retrieval are triggered.
Dr Isaac Bianco, University College London
From vision to action: systems analysis of sensorimotor circuitry controlling visually guided behaviour
Isaac started his research group in the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology at UCL in 2013. He is interested in understanding the neural basis of behaviour and his research combines two-photon functional imaging of neural activity with manipulation through optogenetic techniques. In addition, quantitative behavioural assays in larval zebrafish are used to investigate the structure and function of complete sensorimotor circuits.
Dr Miguel Branco, Queen Mary, University of London
Epigenetic control of retrotransposable elements
Miguel is interested in epigenetic mechanisms that regulate genome function and are implicated in cell identity, development and disease. He is currently investigating the role of different DNA modifications in the regulation of transposable elements. Using current and novel epigenomic technologies combined with molecular biology and genetic approaches, he aims to functionally dissect the epigenetic influence that these abundant genomic elements exert on gene expression and how they contribute to phenotypic variability.
Dr Filipe Cabreiro, University College London
Exploring the gut microbial action of metformin: targeting the gut microbiota to treat metabolic disease
Filipe is a biochemist with a background in exploring the biological mechanisms underlying molecular stress protection and ageing. Recently he has pioneered the use of the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to study how drug-microbiota interactions affect host metabolism and ageing. This work has led to a focus on host-microbiota interactions and metabolic disorders. Using a combination of metagenomics and gnotobiotics, his research seeks to gain insight into the gut microbial action of drugs in higher organisms and to develop strategies for targeting the gut microbiota to treat host metabolic disease.
Dr Alan Cheung, University College London
Molecular mechanisms of transcriptional activation
Alan is a structural biologist interested in the fundamental mechanisms of gene transcription and how those mechanisms are used to control mRNA expression in eukaryotes. His group is based at the joint Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology at UCL and Birkbeck, and will combine a variety of structural, biochemical, biophysical and genetic methods to dissect and study the very large macromolecular complexes that mediate transcriptional activation. Alan's goal is to understand how these complexes act as focal points for transcriptional regulation.
Dr Iwan Evans, University of Sheffield
Studying integration of apoptotic cell clearance and macrophage migration dynamically in vivo
Iwan's research aims to understand how apoptotic cells influence macrophage behaviour and motility, both via intercellular signalling and events post-engulfment. To achieve this his lab is taking a genetic approach, studying a highly motile population of macrophages called hemocytes, which are found within fruit fly embryos. In identifying novel regulatory mechanisms, Iwan aims to provide new targets to manipulate macrophage behaviour in the wide range of human diseases in which they contribute to disease progression, such as cancer, atherosclerosis and chronic inflammation.
Dr Shukry Habib, King's College London
The molecular mechanism of Wnt-mediated asymmetric stem cell division
Shukry is a stem cell biochemist with research interests in understanding the extrinsic and intrinsic cues that choreograph stem cell behaviour during homeostasis, injury, and tumorigenesis. Recently Shukry has demonstrated that a localised source of Wnt signals induces oriented asymmetric cell division (ACD) of embryonic stem cells. By applying principles from bioengineering, stem cell biology and advanced imaging techniques, Shukry aims to gain insight into the underlying molecular mechanism of ACD at the single-cell level, as well as in a tissue context. These studies will aid in our ability to utilise and target critical cells for regenerative medicine.
Dr James Harker, Imperial College London
Contextual manipulation of the IL-6 family of cytokines to alter and enhance CD4+ T-cell immunity to respiratory viral infections
James is a viral immunologist with research interests in understanding the signals involved in generating potent antibody-mediated immunity to infections. His group in the Leukocyte Biology Section at Imperial College London will focus on determining the processes involved in promoting this type of immune response to respiratory viral infections, with the hope of developing novel therapeutic and vaccination strategies. The lab will use a number of in vivo infectious and genetic models that accurately reflect the complexities of the host immune response, allowing James to dissect how specific molecules, along with factors such as age, timing of infection and virus type, influence the outcome.
Dr Christopher Illingworth, University of Cambridge
Multi-locus models of pathogen evolution
Chris is interested in how genome sequences shed light on the rapid evolution of pathogens. A particular focus for his research is the development of tools for interpreting time-resolved data, where sequences collected across time show evolutionary changes in a population as they occur. Working in the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge, Chris hopes to better understand how pathogens respond to evolutionary pressures such as host immune responses and drug therapy.
Dr Zamin Iqbal, University of Oxford
Statistical methods for analysing complex genomic variation in human pathogens
Zamin studies the genomes of different strains of pathogens that cause human diseases. Unlike humans, whose DNA all looks remarkably similar, pathogen strains often have significantly different genomes, which they achieve by swapping large chunks of DNA. These differences are very important, as it is known that strains of a pathogen acquire new abilities (e.g. drug resistance in MRSA, immune evasion, or even the ability to infect humans) through these mutations. Zamin's lab aims to provide insight into pathogen biology and epidemiology, and directly assist clinical decisions, by producing computational tools that analyse new samples or outbreaks in the context of the 'super-genome' of the entire species.
Dr James Kirkbride, University College London
Psychosis risk over the life course: a multilevel, longitudinal investigation of social, economic and physical environmental risk factors at different stages in life
James is a psychiatric epidemiologist interested in understanding how exposure to social factors, including the environments in which we live, may contribute to our risk of psychosis over the life course. He is currently investigating how the social and environmental factors we are exposed to at different periods of our lives (in early infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood) may contribute to developing severe mental illnesses, such as psychotic disorder. He is particularly interested in social inequalities, minority position, and ethnicity. James tests his research questions in England, Sweden and Canada, applying multilevel and spatial regression techniques to longitudinal datasets available in these countries.
Dr Bon-Kyoung Koo, University of Cambridge
Characterisation of novel E3 ubiquitin ligases that are enriched in LGR5-positive intestinal stem cells and niche
Bon-Kyoung is a mouse geneticist with broad experience in the field of E3 ubiquitin ligases. He is based at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, where he studies the role of endosomal E3 ubiquitin ligases in two major signalling pathways. Currently, his research focus is on identifying and understanding the role of novel E3 ubiquitin ligases in homeostatic regulation of stem cells.
Dr Dante Mantini, University of Oxford
Large-scale alterations of cortical activity induced by brain lesions and their relevance to behavioural deficits
Dante is a cognitive neuroscientist who combines neuroimaging experiments and computational models to understand the functional architecture of the brain. He works in the field of brain connectivity, investigating how dynamic interactions between distant brain regions are generated. His current work focuses on examining changes in behaviour and brain connectivity following highly controlled lesions in the macaque brain. This research may have an impact on the way we view the effects of brain lesioning on cognition.
Dr Benedetto de Martino, University of Cambridge
Imperfect choice and the brain: uncertainty, value and decision making
Benedetto is a cognitive neuroscientist who works in the field of decision making. He combines economic models and the tools of cognitive neuroscience, with the aim of developing a realistic account of the behaviour underpinning complex phenomena in economics and finance. His focus is on studying how the human brain computes the values that guide decisions in the face of uncertainty and fragmented information. The goal is to clarify, at the neurobiological level, why some of the most important decisions we make in life are 'suboptimal' or 'imperfect'.
Dr Ainhoa Mielgo Iza, University of Liverpool
Studying the impact of a non-canonical CRAF-PLK1 signalling pathway in desmoplasia and pancreatic cancer progression
Ainhoa is a cancer cell biologist who works on understanding how tumour and stromal cells regulate vital processes, such as apoptosis, proliferation and migration, to survive and promote tumour progression. It has recently become evident that in carcinomas the non-malignant stromal cells play a key role in tumour progression and resistance to therapy. Thus, Ainhoa is currently focusing on understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating the proliferation and survival of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). A better understanding of how the proliferation of CAFs is regulated could help improve current anticancer therapies. Therefore, the overall goal of Ainhoa's research programme is to identify novel key regulators necessary for the aberrant proliferation of CAFs and to investigate the therapeutic benefits of inhibiting proliferation of CAFs in cancer.
Dr Gary Mirams, University of Oxford
Improving assessment of drug-induced cardiac risk with mathematical electrophysiology models
Gary is a computational biologist working on the prediction of potential cardiac side-effects associated with a novel drug compound during its development. Pharmaceutical companies can already perform experiments to measure how drug compounds affect some of the ion channel proteins that control the electrical wave that activates the heart. Gary is using mathematical models of cardiac electrophysiology to integrate this information by performing simulations of the electrical activity of the heart at the cell and tissue levels. The aim is to predict any increased risk of disturbances to human heart rhythm earlier in drug development and more accurately than the existing animal-based safety tests.
Dr Patricia Muller, University of Leicester
Mutant p53 enhances receptor recycling to enhance invasion and chemo-resistance
Patricia is a cancer biologist who has studied the role of mutant p53 proteins in cancer. She has characterised an important intracellular pathway (Rab-coupling protein-driven receptor recycling) as a molecular mechanism underlying mutant p53-driven invasion and metastasis. Mutant p53 expression frequently correlates with drug resistance, and preliminary data reveal a potential role for receptor recycling in mediating chemo-resistance. Using molecular and imaging approaches, Patricia will extend these studies to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying mutant p53-dependent chemo-resistance and to further characterise the molecular pathways regulated by mutant p53 to promote invasion and metastasis.
Dr Nathalie Rochefort, University of Edinburgh
Neuronal circuits and synaptic mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity
Nathalie started her research group in 2013 at the Centre for Integrative Physiology at the University of Edinburgh. She is a sensory neuroscientist whose goal is to understand how neural activity in the visual cortex underlies our perception of a visual scene. By using the method of two-photon calcium imaging combined with electrophysiological recordings, the aim of her project is to determine how sensory experience durably modifies the activity of cortical neuronal networks.
Dr Helen Rowe, University College London
Epigenetic pathways through which endogenous retroviruses regulate cellular genes in pluripotent cells
Helen is investigating the function of the repetitive genome with a focus on endogenous retroviruses, which represent around 10 per cent of mammalian genomes. Her research, using the mouse model, has revealed that rather than being ‘junk DNA’, as previously thought, endogenous retroviruses recruit epigenetic marks and serve as important regulatory elements to affect gene expression, particularly in stem cells. This is because stem cells are enriched in novel factors that target retroviral sequences in order to protect genome integrity. By characterising these factors, Helen aims to uncover the mechanisms by which endogenous retroviruses regulate stem cell biology and early embryogenesis. This work is relevant to the understanding and development of stem cell therapies.
Dr Charlotte Stagg, University of Oxford
Exploring the role of inhibition in human motor plasticity
Charlie is a neuroscientist who is interested in understanding how the brain learns new motor skills. By combining advanced brain imaging techniques and non-invasive brain stimulation approaches, her group will explore the physiological changes underpinning human motor learning. In particular, Charlie is interested in exploring the role of GABA, the major inhibitor neurotransmitter, in motor plasticity. Ultimately this work should help inform new strategies to optimise learning, especially in the context of recovery of function after stroke.
Dr Daniel Streicker, University of Glasgow
Managing viral emergence at the interface of bats and livestock
Daniel is an infectious disease ecologist who aims to develop new strategies to mitigate the impacts of emerging infectious diseases. He seeks to achieve this by understanding the epidemiologial and evolutionary processes that underlie pathogen emergence and establishment in new host species. Based at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow, he is currently investigating viral dynamics at the interface of vampire bats and livestock in Peru, by combining longitudinal surveillance, phylogenetics, metagenomics and field experiments. Statistical integration of these diverse datasets will empower data-driven epidemiological models, creating a platform to anticipate and control cross-species transmission.
Dr Thomas Walker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Wolbachia transinfection of Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquitoes to impact transmission of Japanese encephalitis virus
Tom is based in the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is working on developing a mosquito biocontrol method to reduce the transmission of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) using the endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia. His research aims to determine whether particular strains of this bacterium can prevent or reduce the transmission of JEV in mosquitoes. Laboratory-based experiments to infect mosquitoes with Wolbachia and to determine the subsequent effects will aim to form the basis for an applied control programme to reduce JEV transmission in wild mosquito populations.
Dr Simone Weyand, University of Cambridge
Towards a molecular understanding of neurotransmitter transporter cellular activities
Simone is a biochemist and biophysicist who has worked on the structure determination of membrane proteins, such as the bacterial transporter Mhp1 and the human histamine H1 receptor, by the use of X-ray crystallography. Her Fellowship work uses a holistic approach to understanding the molecular mechanism of human neurotransmitter transporters by investigating the high-resolution structure and the functional analysis and trafficking in the cell. This combined approach, including different techniques, will provide deeper insights into the basic principle of action of these proteins and will eventually enable a more rational and efficient drug design.
Dr Daniel Wilson, University of Oxford
Statistical methods for whole-genome phenotype mapping in bacterial populations
Daniel is an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Oxford, where his laboratory investigates pathogen evolution and epidemiology via whole-genome sequencing. He is a collaborator in the Modernising Medical Microbiology Consortium, whose aim is to harness genomics for microbiological diagnostics and infection control in hospitals. Daniel’s work currently focuses on the identification of genetic variants in pathogen genomes that explain differences in the frequency and severity of infections, particularly hospital-associated infections including Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile and norovirus.
Dr Duncan Wilson, University of Aberdeen
Overcoming nutritional immunity: micronutrient acquisition mechanisms of pathogenic fungi
Duncan is a medical mycologist interested in the struggle for essential micronutrients between human pathogenic fungi and their hosts. Certain trace minerals, such as iron and zinc, are actively withheld from pathogens in a process called nutritional immunity. Therefore, pathogenic microbes must have evolved specialised uptake systems in order to proliferate in their hosts and cause disease. Duncan is using a combination of molecular and cellular biology, together with models of host-pathogen interactions, to dissect the mechanisms of micronutrient assimilation by the major human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans. His aim is to understand how this process contributes to pathogenesis and disease.
Dr Andrew Wood, University of Edinburgh
Chromosomal instability during normal and condensin II-deficient haematopoiesis
Andrew's laboratory studies the mechanisms that maintain a correct number of chromosomes during cell division. He uses blood cell development to understand how effectively these mechanisms operate in vivo, and the consequences of their malfunction on cellular proliferation, differentiation and malignancy.
Dr Bungo Akiyoshi, University of Oxford
Elucidating the mechanism of chromosome segregation in Trypanosoma brucei
From September 2013, Bungo will be working in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, studying trypanosomal kinetochores as a group leader.
Dr Stephen Baker, University of Oxford
The epidemiology, genomics and longitudinal immune response of Shigella infections in Vietnamese children
Stephen is a molecular microbiologist based at the Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He has been there since November 2007 and is the head of the enteric infections research group, which studies the microbiology, genetics, epidemiology and treatment of enteric infections in low-income countries. Focal pathogens include Norovirus, Shigella spp. and Salmonella typhi, the causative agents of diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid fever, respectively. His current direction combines microbiological, immunological and geographical information to study how organisms are transmitted in urban environments and how this interplay can be used to design and implement vaccination strategies.
Dr Jennifer Bizley, University College London
Listening in a noisy world: the role of visual activity in auditory cortex for sound perception
Jennifer is a sensory neuroscientist whose goal is to understand how neural activity in auditory cortex underpins our perception of a sound scene. By combining electrophysiological and behavioural approaches Jennifer aims to explore how the activity of single neurons and neural populations results in sensory discrimination. Jennifer’s current research explores how and when visual information influences auditory perception, and how visual signals alter activity in auditory cortex.
Dr Maciej Boni, University of Oxford
Epidemiology of human influenza in Vietnam
Maciej is currently running a serial seroepidemiology study on human influenza in southern Vietnam and an influenza-like illness study in Ho Chi Minh City. The results of this work will be used to determine whether influenza viruses persist year-to-year in Vietnam and, more broadly, to determine whether countries like Vietnam have the right conditions to seed influenza epidemics in other parts of the world.
Dr Tiago Branco, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Dendritic integration in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus
In 2012 Tiago started his own group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where he combines physiological and molecular methods to investigate how the mouse brain implements the computations that underlie innate behaviours. He is currently a Visiting Scientist at the Janelia Farm Research Campus, working on synaptic integration in the hypothalamic circuits that control feeding behaviour.
Dr Edgar Deu, the Francis Crick Institute
Functional characterisation of essential enzymes in Plasmodium
Edgar’s research focuses on identifying and studying the biological function of novel antimalarial targets, with the aim of opening new therapeutic avenues to fight malaria. He combines chemical biology approaches with genetic methods to identify enzymes that are essential for parasite development, validate them as antimalarial targets and characterise their molecular functions. So far his research has particularly focused on the biological roles of a multifunctional protease involved in red blood cell invasion, parasite maturation, and parasite egress from infected erythrocytes.
Dr Omer Dushek, University of Oxford
Predicting efficient T-cell activation with therapeutic applications
Omer is currently working at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford. His research in molecular immunology aims to use a combination of mathematical modelling and quantitative experiments to understand the complex interplay between the signalling proteins that regulate the activation of T lymphocytes.
Dr Yi Feng, University of Edinburgh
Live imaging and genetic analysis of the inflammatory response upon oncogene-induced tissue homeostasis disruption and its contribution to tumour initiation in zebrafish larvae
Yi’s lab at the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh uses a combination of live imaging and genetic analysis in zebrafish to study the earliest events of tumour initiation in vivo. Her research focuses on interactions between normal host tissue with transformed cells and infiltrating innate immune cells, and she has demonstrated that the latter mount a trophic response toward emergent transformed cells. Her research aims to understand underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating this trophic inflammation response during tumour initiation.
Dr Stephen Graham, University of Cambridge
Molecular mechanisms of membrane trafficking in pathology and infectious disease
Stephen is interested in how eukaryotic cells effect communication between their membrane-bound compartments, how such communication is regulated, and how viruses subvert these mechanisms to their own ends during infection. He uses primarily biophysical and structural biology techniques to address these questions and is currently based in the Virology Division of the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge.
Dr Garrett Hellenthal, University College London
Inferring human colonisation history using genetic data
Garrett has been working at University College London since 2012, developing statistical methods to infer population history using DNA. He is currently developing methods to identify periods in the past when worldwide populations have exchanged DNA, for example due to invasions or migrations, and to describe the genetic make-up of the groups involved in these events. One current project involves characterising the genetic structure of the United Kingdom as part of the People of the British Isles project.
Dr John James, University of Cambridge
Decision making in immune cell activation
Our immune system is a network of white blood cells and proteins that keeps us healthy. John’s research focuses on how T cells in the immune system make a committed decision to initiate an immune response on encountering an infected cell. The signalling network inside these cells is complex, so John has reconstituted a ‘model’ T cell that provides a more tractable way to explore the molecular mechanism of the decision-making process. This research will lead to a better understanding of how our immune system can discriminate between infected and healthy cells, and how we may be able to manipulate it therapeutically when needed.
Dr Jens Januschke, University of Dundee
Recycling polarity - mechanisms controlling stem cell polarity in consecutive divisions in the developing Drosophila central nervous system
Central to Jens’s research interests are the mechanisms behind the dynamics of cell polarisation in cycling cells. In particular, he is using life-cell imaging approaches to study how cell polarity and asymmetric division are linked in neuroblasts, the rapidly dividing stem cells of the developing Drosophila central nervous system.
Dr Pablo Lamata, King’s College London
Diastolic-PM: diastolic biomarkers based on physiological models
Pablo is investigating the diastolic performance of the heart. He is developing new methods to measure the heart’s speed of relaxation, the compliance of the muscle, and the pressure driving the blood flow during the filling phase of the heart cycle. The methods are based on the combination of recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging and computational cardiac modelling
Dr Selinda J Orr, Cardiff University
Collaborative and redundant roles of CLRs in antifungal immunity
Selinda’s laboratory is part of the Myeloid Cell Biology Group at Cardiff University. She aims to understand collaborative responses between C-type lectin-like receptors and to determine how these responses could be targeted to improve antifungal immunity.
Dr Christopher Rodgers, University of Oxford
Advanced human cardiovascular magnetic resonance spectroscopy
Chris runs the Cardiac Spectroscopy group at the Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford. His research group develops methods for magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy of the human heart at ultra-high field strength (7 Tesla). His group has recently recorded the first cardiac 31P magnetic resonance spectra at 7T, already showing significantly better quality than established field strengths.
Dr Tim P Vogels, University of Oxford
Controlling balanced cortical dynamics on slow and fast timescales
Tim is working to understand and reproduce how the brain processes sensory information, by investigating the rules by which its neuronal architecture is constructed and maintained. He is exploring the tight interaction between neuronal activity and the network structure that sustains this activity and the manifold rules that govern these interactions, differing by cell type. Due to the complexity of such high-dimensional systems, Tim simulates these interactions in abstract, simplified computer models. He aims to test out ideas of what such rules could be, and to make experimentally testable predictions about them. This in turn will help to further flesh out a more exact model of the brain, and hopefully spawn further questions and ideas to try out.
Dr Kevin Waldron, Newcastle University
Mechanisms of copper and silver toxicity in Staphylococcus aureus
Based at Newcastle University, Kevin’s research aims to understand the roles of metal ions and metalloproteins in biological systems, how metal selectivity is achieved in vivo, and how metals cause toxicity when metal homeostasis breaks down due to metal excess, genetic mutation or disease. This puts his research interests on the interface between inorganic chemistry and biochemistry. His Fellowship project aims to bring together data obtained by a range of biochemical, genetic, biophysical and proteomic approaches to understand the molecular mechanisms by which copper ions kill Staphylococcus aureus cells, and to assess the risk of spontaneous resistance arising.
Dr Sarah Woolner, University of Manchester
Mitotic spindle orientation and the mechanical tissue environment
Sarah’s research aims to understand how cell behaviour in developing embryos is influenced by the external tissue environment. In particular, she is focusing on determining how cell division orientation is directed by mechanical tissue cues. The orientation of cell division plays a vital role in shaping and organising tissues and in determining cell fate.Sarah’s lab is based in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research at the University of Manchester.