Research Career Re-entry Fellowships: people we've funded

This list includes current and past grantholders.

Current Fellows

Dr Sarah Atkinson

University of Oxford

Using Mendelian randomisation to determine whether iron status is causally related to the risks of severe malaria and invasive bacterial infections in African children

Dr Maria Giulia Bigotti

School of Biochemistry, University of Bristol

Dissecting the molecular mechanism of a group II chaperonin: protein folding in the thermosome and role of prefoldin

During her postdoctoral training years Maria gained considerable experience in the use of recombinant systems to study protein folding and stability; specifically, she worked on the characterisation in vitro of the folding process of model proteins. She then decided to focus her scientific interests on assisted protein folding in the cell, and was involved as a postdoc in a project on class II chaperonins in Professor Tony Clarke's lab at the University of Bristol. After a break due to family commitments, Maria is now returning to Professor Clarke's lab with her own project on an archaeobacterial class II chaperonin.

Dr Marina Edelson-Averbukh

Imperial College London

Two-dimensional laser mass spectrometry: new proteomics for clinical biology of breast cancer and other diseases

Marina completed her PhD at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 2001 before moving in 2003 to the German Cancer Research Centre, DKFZ, Heidelberg, as a Minerva postdoctoral fellow, to work on development of mass spectrometry methods for protein phosphorylation analysis. In 2008, Marina was awarded a DFG-funded principal investigator fellowship, held at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. Early in 2010 she moved to London for family reasons and subsequently filled a few managerial and teaching lecturer positions. Marina is now delighted to return to active academic research at Imperial College London. During her Fellowship, Marina will be working on the development of a new general proteomic technology for structural analysis of proteins and their post-translational modifications using mass spectrometry and femtosecond laser pulses. This multidisciplinary approach will be applied to explore the role of protein post-translational modifications in the development of breast cancer resistance to endocrine therapy. In this research, she and her colleagues hope to identify improved therapeutic targets for breast cancer endocrine treatment.

Dr Nicola Farrer

University of Oxford

Ultrasonic delivery of theranostic anti-cancer agents

Dr Katia De Filippo

Imperial College London

Molecular Mmchanisms of neutrophil homeostasis in the lung and spleen

Dr Lucia Florescu

University of Surrey

Optical characterisation of epithelial tissue function and metabolism for early cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring

More that 80% of cancers occur in directly or endoscopically accessible epithelial tissue lining the surfaces and cavities of organs and are preceded by a curable precancerous stage. For these cancers, clinical evaluation based on subjective visual impression is still the most widely employed method for assessing lesions. There is an urgent need for new approaches to epithelial tissue characterisation for objective early cancer diagnosis and monitoring.

We will develop and evaluate an optical imaging technology that will enable clinicians to see accurate 3D images of precancerous and cancerous changes in the epithelial tissue, the extent of disease, and early changes associated with treatment. The technology will be applied to tissue samples in the laboratory and to live tissue to define clinical criteria for objective early diagnosis and assessment of treatment success.

This development will improve cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment and greatly increase the chances of a cure while also reducing the cost to patients and healthcare systems. The new technology will also represent a valuable tool for cancer biology studies, which in turn may lead to new cancer treatments.

Dr Jane Herron

Cardiff University

Neural correlates of retrieval control in human episodic memory

Jane completed her PhD at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, before taking up her first postdoctoral position at Cardiff University's School of Psychology studying electrophysiological correlates of human episodic memory. Later, as an RCUK academic fellow, Jane examined behavioural and neural correlates of retrieval control in healthy young adults using a variety of imaging modalities (such as EEG, fMRI and MEG). Jane took a five-year career break to care for her children during their preschool years, and has now returned to Cardiff University to continue her research in human episodic memory and retrieval control. During her Fellowship, Jane will be investigating to what extent brain activity associated with retrieval control predicts memory success by combining EEG with other manipulations, including transcranial magnetic stimulation, thus taking her study of retrieval control beyond correlational measures to asking questions about the causal role these processes play in episodic memory retrieval.

Dr Joanne Holliday (née Layland)

University of Nottingham

The integrative role of FIH-1 in HIF-dependent oxygen sensing of cardiac cells

After completing a PhD at the University of Leeds, Jo trained as a British Heart Foundation-funded postdoc in the labs of Professor Jon Kentish and Professor Ajay Shah at King's College London. There she investigated the intracellular mechanisms governing changes in contractility in healthy and diseased myocardium. Jo took a seven-year career break to look after her two children and recently returned to academic life at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham. Her research examines how hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF) and factor inhibiting HIF-1 (FIH-1) influence the contractile and metabolic responses to hypoxia in cardiac cells. During her Fellowship Jo will combine her primary research interests in cardiac physiology with assessment of cardiac metabolism (with Dr Mark Cole) and manipulation of the HIF system in cultured myocytes (with Professor Chris Denning). This integrated approach will promote a greater understanding of hypoxic signalling in the heart and investigate novel therapeutic options for cardiac disease.

Deborah Hoyle

University of Edinburgh

Prevalence and diversity of Shiga-toxin and non-O157 Escherichia coli carriage in cattle

Deborah qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1994 from the University of Cambridge and after a short period in clinical practice, moved to the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine, Edinburgh. Here she completed a PhD in 2000, investigating immune responses to parasite infection in cattle. She subsequently spent four years at Edinburgh as a postdoctoral scientist, researching the molecular epidemiology of antimicrobial-resistant commensal and pathogenic Escherichia coli on beef cattle farms. From 2005, Deborah took a nine-year career break to raise a family and is now returning to the field of veterinary epidemiology. She will take up her Fellowship at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in March 2015, and will be investigating the epidemiology of Shiga toxin positive non-O157 E. coli on farms throughout the UK, using genome sequencing technology to examine the relationship between bovine and human clinical isolates.

Dr Rhiannon Jenkinson

University of Bristol

The role of T cells in epithelial maintenance and regeneration

After her PhD at the University of Liverpool, Rhiannon completed her first postdoctoral position at the University of Bristol studying T-cell and tumour-cell interactions.She then moved to the USA for five years to work at the NIH in the laboratories of Dr Remy Bosselut and Dr Richard Hodes to pursue and build her interests in T-cell function and development and T-cell regulation of epithelial development in the thymus. Following the birth of her children and relocation back to the UK, Rhiannon took time away from academic science to work for a pre-clinical research organisation. During her Fellowship, Rhiannon will seek to understand whether the mechanisms that are critical for T-cell regulation of epithelial development in the thymus are also key players in T-cell regulation of epithelium in other tissues where T cells and epithelium closely interact in health, disease and repair processes.

Dr Nicole Kaneider

University of Cambridge

Function of GPR35 in inflammation

Nicole studied medicine at the University of Innsbruck, Austria and the University of Freiburg, Germany. Following her qualification with an intercalated thesis in 1999, she worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of Innsbruck. She interrupted her clinical specialist training in internal medicine in 2004, joining the coagulation and haemostasis laboratory at the New England Medical Center at Tufts University, USA for a second postdoctoral fellowship. There she studied the biology of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in coagulation and inflammation. After returning to Austria she completed her clinical specialist training, and with a professorial thesis on inflammation and coagulation was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Innsbruck in 2010. After career breaks for family reasons and relocating to the UK, Nicole is now based at the University of Cambridge in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, where she studies the function of GPR35, an orphan GPCR.

Dr Dina Kronhaus

University of Cambridge

The effect of music upon cognition: behavioural, neural and modelling studies

Dina received a BMus in Performing Arts from the Jerusalem (Rubin) Academy of Music and Dance, and a PhD in Neuroinformatics from the University of Edinburgh. She held two independent postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Cambridge (Psychiatry Department and St Catharine’s College) and holds an honorary Assistant Professorship in Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dina took a three-year career break to raise her young family before commencing her current research programme, which aims to understand the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive and emotional responses to music. These experiments hope to increase our understanding of how circuits dynamically reorganise in different emotional settings.

Dr Suzanne Madgwick

Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Newcastle University

Cyclin B1, critical regulator of cell division

Suzanne will carry out her Fellowship in the laboratories of Professor Michael Whitaker and Dr Mark Levasseur, as a member of the Cell Signalling group at Newcastle University's Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences. She will be investigating the control of metaphase exit, primarily in meiotic cells, but also in mitotic cells. Female meiotic cells have a particularly high frequency of chromosome division error, often resulting in a chromosome imbalance. A comparative study of both types of cell division will not only improve our understanding of their differential control, but also provide further insight into the origins of cell division error.

Dr Sara Morais Da Silva

University of Cambridge

The role of the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint protein BUB3 in tumourigenesis

Identifying the mechanisms underlying the uncontrolled proliferation of tumour cells is important for opening new avenues for drug therapies for cancer. The development of some tumours is linked to the failure to distribute chromosomes during cell division, a process controlled by the so-called spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) proteins. However, it is unclear how this uncontrolled proliferation arises. 

The similarities between Drosophila and the human cell in terms of cycle, cellular processes and regulatory pathways make it an excellent model to study mechanisms of tumourigenesis. My research will use Drosophila to investigate whether the combinations of other genetic lesions can prevent or potentiate tumour growths. Preliminary evidence suggests that the metabolic state of the cells may be a contributory factor. In addition, using Drosophila will also make it possible to study tumours over multiple generations, as the tumour can grow indefinitely through serial transplantations. 

This model avoids some of the complexities of mammalian tumours yet has the potential to identify new aspects of tumour development, which can be useful for development of new therapies.

Dr Yoko Nagai

Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Seizures and arousal: interaction between epileptiform activity and central autonomic control in patients with chronic epilepsy

Yoko is a translational neuroscientist with interests in mind-body interaction and human consciousness. Her PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, involved the investigation and development of a non-drug treatment (biofeedback) for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. This pioneering work attracted funding for a clinical trial at the Institute of Neurology, UCL, where Yoko conducted six years of postdoctoral research. She also undertook several neuroimaging studies to investigate the neural mechanisms of biofeedback. She was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Essex in 2007 and held this position until 2010, leaving for family reasons (childcare). Yoko's current research investigates the central neural mechanisms of biofeedback treatment in reducing seizure frequencies in patients with epilepsy, using simultaneous EEG and fMRI. 

Dr Rebecca Payne

Newcastle University

Innate lymphoid cells: promoting homeostasis and preventing gut dysbiosis

I propose to study a group of children with rare genetic disorders of the immune system where the only cure is haematopoietic stem-cell transplant. A serious complication of this is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), in which the transplanted immune cells attack the host’s organs, particularly the bowel. Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are a small group of white blood cells that are important in protecting barrier surfaces, such as the gut, from bacterial invasion.

My key goals are to identify whether ILCs also have a role in mediating signals between bacteria in the gut and other immune cells. By exploring this process I hope to better understand how dysregulated immune cells can drive immune complications in transplant recipients. To achieve this I will determine whether ILCs have different characteristics in children who have a complicated or a smooth transplant course. I will correlate the levels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut during transplant with the behaviour of the transplanted immune cells, and I will explore whether signals from bacteria can teach ILCs to behave differently towards other immune cells.

Through this work I hope to identify how ILCs can be manipulated to treat or prevent human inflammatory diseases.

Dr Sarah Pickett

Newcastle University

Identification of nuclear factors modulating the clinical phenotype of m.3243A>G-related mitochondrial disease

Mitochondria are responsible for converting food energy into cellular energy. They rely on genetic information from two sources: DNA on chromosomes in the nucleus and their own DNA (mtDNA). Mutations in either can cause disease. The most common mtDNA mutation, m.3243A>G, causes a devastating syndrome that results in uncontrolled seizures, strokes and early death. However, large numbers of m.3243A>G-carriers have different symptoms, including diabetes and deafness. The mutation can affect any organ, at any age with any degree of severity.

Family studies suggest that differences in nuclear chromosomes influence clinical outcome. This project aims to identify these using a unique group of m.3243A>G carriers from 140 unrelated families by searching nuclear chromosomes for areas that are shared more frequently in patients with similar symptoms using linkage and association analysis, sequencing the DNA of patients to identify variations in the nuclear chromosomes that cause differences in clinical outcome, and characterising these variants, showing how they cause these differences. A statistical model to estimate disease outcome based on genetic risk factors will then be developed.

The discovery of genetic risk factors for m.3243A>G-related disease will improve our understanding of this common mitochondrial disease and allow clinicians to tailor patient treatment and advice.

Dr Ivana Rosenzweig

King's College London

The neuropathology of obstructive sleep apnoea

Ivana obtained her MD from the University of Zagreb and her PhD from the University of Cambridge. She is a consultant neuropsychiatrist, having trained and worked in university teaching hospitals in Cambridge and London. She has also taught physiology to medical students as a Bye-Fellow of Selwyn College and worked at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. With her colleagues at the Department of Neuroimaging at King's College London and the Sleep Disorders Centre at Guy's Hospital, she is currently exploring the role of sleep and hypoxia on brain plasticity, with a particular focus on the neurobiology and cognitive sequelae of various sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea.

Dr Jaswinder Sethi

University of Southampton

Role of inhibitor of kappa B kinase epsilon in sex-dependent differences in metaflammation

Type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers are all diseases of deregulated metabolism and are linked to obesity. With our failure to combat the worldwide rise in obesity, there is now an urgent need to develop therapeutic approaches that can uncouple obesity from the development of these devastating diseases. This requires a better understanding of the biological processes that promote or prevent the development of metabolic disease.

My previous studies have investigated the involvement of low-level activation of the immune system in reprogramming metabolism. I have identified new signaling proteins, such as IKBKE, that regulate the inflammatory responses to metabolic stress. However, female sex hormones (or oestrogens) can also dampen inflammation and pre-menopausal women appear to be protected from developing obesity-related metabolic diseases. To date, very little is known about how this protection occurs. I will study how oestrogens interact with IKBKE and the immune system’s ability to respond to metabolic stress.

The knowledge gained from this study will improve our understanding of the biological processes that can be used to protect people with obesity from developing metabolic diseases. We will also shed light on the immuno-metabolic changes that may accompany menopause.

Dr Caroline Taylor

University of Bristol

In utero exposure to heavy metals: effects on child development

Following a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Surrey, Caroline completed her PhD at the Rowett Research Institute at the University of Aberdeen on intestinal zinc homeostasis. Her postdoctoral work also focused on aspects of human nutrition before family commitments led to a career in medical publishing. She was awarded a Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowship in 2012 to study the effects of in utero exposure to lead on child growth and development at the University of Bristol with Professor Jean Golding and Professor Alan Emond. During her Wellcome Trust Fellowship, Caroline will be extending her previous work on lead to include cadmium and mercury exposures in epidemiological databases, including modelling of genetic and epigenetic data.

Dr Catherine Thwaites

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam

Improving the management and prevention of tetanus in Vietnam

Tetanus is caused by a toxin that acts on nerves in the spinal cord causing severe muscle spasms. Treatment includes injections of antitoxin. Patients with severe tetanus have violent muscle spasms and muscle paralysis is needed to control them. Machine ventilation is also needed as the patient will not be able to breathe unaided. Patients with severe tetanus experience fluctuating heart rate and blood pressure which can be confused with infection. The disease remains common despite apparently good vaccination programmes.

I will examine whether an additional injection of antitoxin directly into the spine reduces the severity of disease. The study will involve randomly allocating 270 patients to normal treatment or additional spinal injection. I will see if spinal antitoxin can reduce the need for machine ventilation as well as reduce the length and cost of hospital stays and intensive care and other problems associated with tetanus such as hospital-acquired infections. I will also examine methods of predicting who is likely to be affected by tetanus. I will measure antibody levels from 4,000 Vietnamese people using already-stored blood samples to gauge how many people have protective levels of antibody.

Dr Mark Tricklebank

King's College London

Whether stimulation of the serotonergic 5HT1A receptor can become a safe and clinically convenient way to increase oxytocin function in the brain

Oxytocin is known for its ability to enhance social behaviour in both animals and humans. Intranasal administration of oxytocin has been found to help people with schizophrenia, autism or people with social anxiety to correctly perceive the social cues that indicate appropriate social engagement. While intranasal sprays are an acceptable form of oxytocin administration with rapid brain uptake, it can be difficult to ensure accurate delivery of the intended dose.

We will examine the possibility of pharmacologically inducing the sustained secretion of oxytocin by an indirect mechanism that is amenable to long-term exposure using oral administration. I propose that this could be achieved indirectly by pharmacological stimulation of the brain’s 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A receptor. 5-HT1A agonists have been available for some time but those that are commercially available such as buspirone are not sufficiently powerful at the receptor to enhance oxytocin release. We will evaluate two new compounds that are in development for the treatment of depression (vortioxetine) and female sexual dysfunction (flibanserin) which both have high affinity and efficacy at 5-HT1A receptors.

Our findings could improve the administration of oxytocin to people who have difficulty with social engagement.

Dr Natacha Vanattou-Saifoudine

University of Sheffield

The corticol representation of low-probability stimuli and its neuromorphic implimentation

Understanding brain functionalities has been a source of intensive worldwide research but many have still not been fully uncovered. One of these is attention control and attention reallocation which are essential in our daily life. In fact, our sensory surroundings is made of multiple and complex signal sources and the brain extracts relevant stimuli from this continuous source of stimuli. Therefore rare events (also called deviants) have much more behavioural importance than background noise and one known neuronal marker of deviance detection is the stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA). SSA occurs when the activity of a cortical neuron response decreases when exposed to a constant or repetitive stimulus while at the same time responding to a rare deviant stimulus that still has high activity. In previous work, research groups have been able to establish that SSA allowed detection of novel stimuli and irregularities in the auditory and somatosensory systems but the underlying mechanisms involved remain unknown.

This project will investigate the biophysical mechanisms of SSA as well as its implementation on neuromorphic analogue circuitry.

Past Fellows

Dr Raya Al-Shawi

University College London

The roles of the Ror1 and Ror2 receptor tyrosine kinases in neural development

Before receiving her Fellowship, Raya was a Senior Group Leader at the Centre for Genome Research at the University of Edinburgh, where she worked on hormonal regulation of liver gene expression and the refinement of transgenic models. Raya has had a couple of career breaks to look after her young family. She gained her Career Re-entry Fellowship and an Honorary Lectureship at the Royal Free (University College London) to work on developmental neurobiology. Raya is currently back at UCL, developing models to investigate mechanisms of disease and for preclinical development of potential therapies, focusing on neurodegenerative diseases and systemic amyloidosis.

Dr Helen Arthur

Newcastle University

Role of endoglin in vascular development and disease

Helen is a senior lecturer at Newcastle University, studying the role of TGFbeta/BMP signalling in cardiovascular development and disease. She began her research career in DNA repair, but took an extended career break of about ten years to focus time on her three children when they were young. Starting her research career again after such a long break – and in a completely different subject area – was only possible thanks to her Career Re-entry Fellowship.

Dr Gillian Borthwick

Newcastle University

Protein abnormalities associated with human motor neurone degeneration

As National Research Coordinator for the National Institute for Health Research Genetics Specialty Group, Gillian has a research management role, working with the UK clinical genetics community. In 2008 she took the decision to apply her knowledge of research funding, gained through many applications as a research scientist, and moved into research management. Gillian initially worked in Newcastle University's Research Office, supporting academics in the process of obtaining external research funding and negotiating research contracts with funders and research collaborators.

Dr Jess Buxton

Imperial College London

The role of telomere attrition in Type 2 diabetes and its complications

With the award of her Fellowship in 2009, Jess returned to human genetics research after a career break taken for family reasons. Her scientific interests lie in understanding the contribution of genetic variation and genomic integrity to human disease. Jess's early research revealed how massive expansion of an unstable genomic repeat region causes a monogenic disorder. She is currently investigating the relationship between leukocyte telomere length and metabolic disease, with Dr Alex Blakemore at Imperial College London. Jess has shown that children with severe obesity have significantly shorter telomeres than their normal-weight peers, a finding that has important implications for their long-term health. Through the identification of novel genetic and environmental factors affecting telomere integrity throughout life, her aim is to understand the role of telomere shortening in the onset of age-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Alexandra Chittka

University College London

Role of SC1/PRDM4, a PRDM family transcription factor in the development and maintenance of the nociceptive phenotype of primary sensory neurons

After receiving her PhD from Cornell University, New York, Alexandra continued her work on the role of PRDM4 in neural development during her postdoctoral training at the Neurological Clinic, University of Würzburg, Germany. Following a move to London with her family, she had a career break and then received a Career Re-entry Fellowship in 2005 to continue her research at UCL. Alexandra's work focused on the elucidation of the mechanisms which control neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation.

Dr Geraldine Clough

University of Southampton

Mechanisms of control of blood flow in human skin

Geraldine is Professor of Vascular Physiology and leads the Vascular Research Group in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton. Her research focuses on the life-course determinants of microvascular dysfunction associated with common chronic non-communicable diseases. Working with engineers and mathematicians, her group leads interdisciplinary initiatives, investigating novel non-invasive measures of microvascular status. The work is supported by UK Research Councils, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust, the British Heart Foundation and industry. Geraldine's route to personal chair was via a BSc and PhD at University College London, a Junior Research Fellowship in Oxford and a Lectureship at Imperial College London. It also included a break for two children and a return to research supported by her Career Re-entry Fellowship, awarded in 1997.

Dr Sally Anne Cowley

University of Oxford

In vitro differentiation of human embryonic stem cells can produce tractable and physiologically credible surrogates for monocyte-derived macrophages for use in HIV studies

Sally began her research career working on host-pathogen interactions in mycobacteria (PhD, Royal College of Surgeons, University of London, and later at the Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Ethiopia). Her postdoctoral work (New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, and Institute of Cancer Research, London) centred around signal transduction pathways involved in differentiation. Following a career break to raise her children, Sally was awarded her Fellowship in 2007, enabling her to develop a programme of research into the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to macrophages and their applications for host-pathogen studies (especially HIV), at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford. She has established and now heads the James Martin Stem Cell Facility (affiliated to the Oxford Stem Cell Institute), for work with human induced pluripotent stem cells, with key roles within the Oxford Parkinson's Disease Centre and EU IMI StemBANCC.

Dr Isabel Crane

University of Aberdeen

The role of chemokines in organ-specific autoimmune disease – endogenous posterior uveoretinitis as a model system

Dr William Devane

National University of Ireland, Galway

Characterisation of the pharmacology of leelamine, and isolation and characterisation of related endogenous ligands

William's postdoctoral experience began with Professor Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, where he discovered the endocannabinoid anandamide. Later, as a research fellow with the Nobel Laureate Julius Axelrod, at the NIH, Bethesda, he studied the physiological and biochemical actions of anandamide. He subsequently became assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin and then the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, where he discovered a novel diterpene, leelamine, which demonstrates cannabinoid-like activity in CB1 receptor knockout mice. William took a few years off from science, living in Alaska and India, and is now based at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Dr Suzanne Duce

University of Dundee

Musculoskeletal study of limb development in vertebrates by magnetic resonance imaging microscopy

Suzanne is currently at the University of Dundee, using clinical and preclinical MRI to understand disease progression and quantify the efficacy of therapies. After gaining her PhD, she managed a DTI-LINK-funded MRI project at the University of Cambridge. She had a career break of over a decade caring for her three children. Being awarded a Career Re-entry Fellowship in 2007 gave her the opportunity to re-establish her scientific research career. Based at the University of Dundee, she collaborated with Cheryll Tickle, using micro-MRI to study embryonic development. They were able to demonstrate the origins of club foot in a mouse model. Suzanne has authored over 30 scientific publications, 19 as principal author.

Dr Caroline Formstone

King's College London

Dissection of Celsr1/Flamingo function in vertebrate morphogenesis

Caroline is in the second year of her Career Re-entry Fellowship after taking a six-year career break for family reasons. She seeks to understand how epithelial precursor cells collectively build and elaborate organs and tissues during vertebrate embryonic development, through study of a core component of the planar cell polarity pathway.

Dr Yuan Guo

School of Chemistry, University of Leeds

Mechanism of multivalent lectin-carbohydrate interaction

Yuan's research aims to understand how high-affinity binding between glycan-binding proteins (also known as lectins) and their specific sugar ligands is achieved through multivalent interaction. Such binding underpins a wide range of important biological recognition events closely associated with cancer metastasis, pathogen infectivity and immune regulation.

Dr Robert Hawkes

University of Cambridge

Simultaneous PET/MR Imaging

Rob studied cosmic rays for his PhD and had an early career in particle physics, investigating quark models of hadrons. A strong attraction to medical interests then led to nuclear magnetic resonance (MR) imaging research at the University of Nottingham and Harvard Medical School. Some 20 years in industrial R&D followed, developing new applications for MR that included enhancing recovery of hydrocarbons from deep oil reservoirs, hyperpolarising nuclei to dramatically increase the signal available for MR imaging methods, and the construction of a prototype combined simultaneous positron emission tomography (PET) and MR scanner. Following the award of his Career Re-entry Fellowship, Robert has been able to install this instrument in a preclinical laboratory. His aim is to develop simultaneous PET/MR acquisition techniques, with an emphasis on optimising qualitative and quantitative measurement of metabolic and disease processes in living animals.

Dr Alison Howorth

University of Manchester

Molecular mechanisms of urea transport in colon

Alison completed her PhD in physiology in 1985 at the University of Manchester. Following a career break from 1986 to 1995 to bring up her children, she returned to the research environment as a Career Re-entry Fellow in cell physiology. The opportunities that the Fellowship provided were invaluable, not only in the area of scientific retraining but also in allowing Alison to focus on transferable skills, equipping her for other careers outside science. After four years, she made a change in career direction to enter higher education management – first as a Graduate Administrator, then in various roles including working as the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences NHS Liaison Officer. She now holds a senior management position as the Head of School Administration in Manchester Medical School, where she is responsible for the oversight of all administration associated with the School.

Dr David Karlin

University of Oxford

Discovering the function, structure and evolutionary impact of proteins created de novo (i.e. not by duplication), in particular in viruses and in bacteria

David returned to research in 2010 following the award of his Career Re-entry Fellowship. Before that, he had been working in public engagement for seven years in England and in his home city of Marseilles. David set up a charity offering hands-on workshops, allowing many audiences to discover biology: people with genetic disease, school students and the public. His research focuses on two themes: the 'invention' of new proteins by viruses, and finding distant connections between viral proteins. Regions of viral proteins that are conserved over long evolutionary distances may play important roles, given that viruses evolve so fast. This suggests that such regions could be important drug targets.

Dr Julie Kelly

Trinity College Dublin

Design and synthesis of inhibitors of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)-degrading ectoenzyme for use in assessing the role of this enzyme and TRH in the CNS

Dr Katrina Lythgoe

Imperial College London

The effect of population structure on the evolutionary dynamics of HIV

Katrina is interested in applying ecological and evolutionary theory to better predict the evolutionary dynamics of infectious disease in humans and other species, with the ultimate aim of informing public health decisions. Her current research is focused on the within- and between-host evolution of HIV and – in particular – on the consequences of population structure on the evolutionary dynamics of the virus. Katrina is a member of the Evolutionary Epidemiology Group within the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London. Before re-entering active research she was the Editor of the journal 'Trends in Ecology of Evolution'. She has two young children.

Dr Camilla Larsen

King's College London

Patterning of sub-regions in the Drosphila brain

After five years of postdoctoral work in the UK and USA, Camilla decided to take time out from work to have children. Since being awarded a Career Re-entry Fellowship in 2008, she has been based at King's College London, where her research focuses on olfactory learning and multi-sensory integration.

Dr Christiaan van Ooij

The Francis Crick Institute

Phospholipid transport and membrane formation in Plasmodium falciparum: investigation of the phospholipid transfer protein PFA0210c

Christiaan works at the Francis Crick Institute, where he investigates the interaction of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum with its host cell, with a particular focus on the transfer of phospholipids and membranes.

Dr Jennifer Rohn

University College London

Identification and characterisation of novel regulators of mammalian cell morphogenesis using RNAi

Jenny has always been interested in the unifying theme of how cells respond to the diseased state, whether from pathogens or the transformed state. After her career break, she used her Career Re-entry Fellowship at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL to hone her cell-biological expertise, with an emphasis on cytoskeletal regulation. After her Fellowship, she was appointed to run a basic sciences lab in UCL's Division of Medicine, allied to a busy NHS clinical practice headed by Professor James Malone-Lee. There, she works closely with clinicians and patients to study the cell biology and pathogen-host interactions of chronic urinary tract infection, which despite being a growing serious problem worldwide, especially among older people, is a neglected research area.

Dr Ruth Ross

University of Aberdeen (now at University of Toronto)

Characterisation of the effects of cannabinoid CB2 receptor agonists and antagonists

Ruth completed her PhD in 1990 at the University of Edinburgh. The focus of this and her postdoctoral research was cyclooxygenase metabolite pharmacology and prostanoid receptor pharmacology. Following a career break to look after her children (1991–95), she returned to research funded by a Career Re-entry Fellowship at the University of Aberdeen in 1996. The Fellowship focused on the emerging area of cannabinoid receptor pharmacology. In 2008 Ruth became Chair in Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Aberdeen, where she was also Director of the Kosterlitz Centre for Therapeutics. In 2013 she relocated to the University of Toronto to take up the position of Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Her research is focused on the molecular pharmacology of the endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids and small molecules targeting the cannabinoid system. The ultimate goal of her research is to exploit the endocannabinoid system for development of novel therapeutics and to gain greater understanding the pharmacology of cannabis constituents.

Dr Jane Skok

Imperial College London (now at New York University School of Medicine)

The basis of Th2 induction by B lymphocytes

After completing her PhD at Imperial Cancer Research Centre, Lincoln's Inn Fields (now the CRUK London Research Institute), Jane took ten years off and pursued training in art while caring for her young children. She then returned to science, joining David Gray's lab at Imperial College London as a Career Re-entry Fellow and later in her own lab at University College London. In 2006, Jane moved to New York University School of Medicine, where her research focuses on epigenetic regulation of V(D)J recombination. Her approach is to understand how nuclear organisation of the antigen receptor genes affects their accessibility to the recombinase (RAG proteins). Her aim is to understand how faithful DNA rearrangements are maintained in the context of the complex chromatin environment of developing B or T lymphocytes to prevent immune deficiency, autoimmunity and translocations involving Ig loci.

Dr Valérie Urbach

National Children's Research Centre, Ireland

Aldosterone modulation of intracellular Ca2+ and pH, and K+ conductances: implications for secretion and reabsorption in pluripotential epithelia

After obtaining her PhD in 1993 at the University of Nice, France, Valérie spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow at University College Cork, Ireland. A year after the birth of her fourth child in 1998, she was awarded a Career Re-entry Fellowship and returned to France to join a respiratory research group at the University Hospital Montpellier. In 2003, she was offered a permanent appointment as a researcher at the French National Institute of Health, INSERM, where she has continued to work in the area of airway epithelium in health and disease and developed translational studies on the regulation of airway epithelial secretory function. Her research has revealed novel effects of the endogenous lipoxin LXA4 on airway epithelium function. Valérie is currently on leave of absence from INSERM in Dublin, Ireland, where she has established a research group at the National Children’s Research Centre and expanded the work on lipoxins to children with cystic fibrosis.

Dr Harry White

Department of Biosciences, University of Exeter

Discovering the antibody maturation defects in original antigenic sin to improve influenza and dengue vaccine design, and improving techniques for antibody cloning

From 1990 to 2005/06 Harry worked in various laboratories in London, initially investigating bone-marrow adhesion molecules at UCL and, later, analysing antibody responses using antibody gene sequencing at the Institute of Child Health. Harry and his family then decided to move to Dartmoor. To enable part-time work from home while they developed their farm, Harry completed an MA in Industrial Design and worked self-employed on various projects communicating science with design. When the farm development was finished, Harry applied for and was awarded a Career Re-entry Fellowship in November 2012. He started his new position at the University of Exeter in January 2013, where he is analysing antibody responses with a view to understanding why sub-optimal responses often happen in response to viruses like influenza and dengue.

Dr Frances Willenbrock

London Research Institute

Defining the signalling that leads to activation of lymphocyte integrins

Frances was initially involved in developing an automated tracking procedure for analysing lymphocyte behaviour and integrin activation under shear flow conditions. She now works on the role of protein kinase C epsilon in cell-cell de-adhesion, with particular focus on characterising its interaction with actin.

People we've funded

Many of our grantholders carry out research in Africa and Asia. See our directories: