Research Career Development Fellowships: people we've funded

2012

Dr Elaine Dunleavy

National University of Ireland, Galway

Assembly and function of Drosophila melanogaster centromeric chromatin during meiosis and development

Elaine is a cell and molecular biologist interested in the regulation of centromeres, key chromosomal loci that oversee proper chromosome segregation during cell division. She is particularly interested in how centromere function is regulated during meiosis, to give rise to eggs and sperm with the correct number of chromosomes. During the Fellowship, Elaine aims to gain insight into mechanisms controlling centromere function in meiosis and early development, by using genetic, biochemical and high-resolution imaging approaches in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

Dr Richard Poole

University College London

The specification of left-right symmetry in the nervous system

Richard is interested in the mechanisms by which diverse types of neurons develop from a fertilized egg. He studied biology at the University of Sussex and his PhD was in Developmental Biology at University College London. Richard then moved to Columbia University to study the mechanisms of left-right asymmetric neuron specification with Prof. Oliver Hobert. He established his own research group at UCL in 2012 as a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow. His team uses the power of C. elegans as an in vivo genetic model system with single-cell resolution to reveal fundamental principles of neural development, which should subsequently provide the basis for novel therapies and brain repair strategies. Richard is focused on uncovering the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate left-right asymmetric neurogenesis and more recently is expanding his research in a new direction, to address the mechanisms of plasticity and transdifferentiation during glial-derived neurogenesis.

Dr Marian Tsanov

Trinity College Dublin

Inter-regional synaptic integration of sensorimotor signals within episodic memory networks

Marian is a neuroscientist investigating the encoding and processing of signals that mediate episodic memory formation. His research targets the spatial representation and path integration networks in behaving rodents. He examines how the structures processing the information between striatum and hippocampus integrate motor, sensory and intrinsic signals within theta cycle, and how this integration supports hippocampal memory function. By developing and applying novel optogenetic methodology, Marian aims to perform selective manipulation of neuronal activity in the regions that provide the anatomical locus for cross-talk between striatal and hippocampal memory systems.

2011

Dr A Jeyaprakash Arulanandam

University of Edinburgh

Structural basis for accurate chromosome segregation

Cell division is a fundamental molecular process of life that ensures accurate transfer of genetic information through generations. Errors in cell division often result in daughter cells with inappropriate numbers of chromosomes, a condition associated with cancers and Down’s syndrome. Therefore, understanding the molecular mechanisms of cell division is crucial in fighting health-related disorders. Jeyaprakash's team studies the molecular mechanisms of accurate cell division by characterising key regulators (multi-subunit protein complexes) of cell division, using an interdisciplinary approach combining structural, biochemical and cell biological methods.

Dr Chris Barnes

University College London

A statistical approach to the understanding of mutation processes in the human genome and their impact on evolution, health and disease

The main themes of Chris's research are the use of mathematical modelling and statistical methods to gain insights into biological processes and their relation to disease. During the Fellowship he will develop dynamic models of mutational processes in the genome and investigate regions that are susceptible to repeated sporadic mutation.

Dr Tristan A Bekinschtein

Medical Research Council

Cognitive processing in states of consciousness and its transitions

Tristan is interested in cognition and neurophysiology. Currently he is primarily looking at how we lose consciousness and how we get it back. Mainly his laboratory is attacking the limits of different cognitive domains such as memory, attention, language and awareness, in the process of falling asleep or being sedated. The team is measuring behaviour, muscle activity and brain activity (electroencephalography, functional MRI, intracranial electrodes), and stimulating the brain directly through transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current, to respond to the main questions at the intersection between awareness and wakefulness.

Dr Amy Buck

University of Edinburgh

Tipping the balance: pathogen manipulation of microRNA regulatory pathways

Host-pathogen interactions form the basis for numerous therapeutic, vaccine and diagnostic strategies in infectious disease. Amy is interested in the role of small RNAs in these interactions. Research in her laboratory focuses on the mechanisms by which viruses and parasitic worms use the microRNA pathway to manipulate their hosts. The long-term goal is to understand how microRNAs influence host-pathogen co-evolution and to use RNA detection and manipulation to better diagnose and treat infectious diseases.

Dr David K Cole

Cardiff University

The molecular rules that govern CD4+ T-helper cell recognition of peptide-MHCII

David's laboratory is a member of the T-cell modulation group. He aims to understand how T cells respond to infections and to design new strategies for producing artificial T cells to target and eliminate cancer cells and germs that cause disease.

Dr Mark Dodding

King's College London

Coupling the molecular motor kinesin-1 to new cargo, functions and diseases

The sorting and transport of intracellular components is of central importance to all forms of life. Long-range intracellular transport within cells is mediated by the dynein and kinesin family of molecular motors using the microtubule cytoskeleton as scaffolding. These molecules move along the microtubules and carry cargo components to their destination. Mark's research focuses on how motors associate with their cargo. He aims to understand the molecular features of cargo proteins that allow them to interact with particular molecular motors. This will allow us to better understand the link between intracellular transport and pathological processes, and may open up new therapeutic approaches to treat a range of human diseases.

Dr Panagis Filippakopoulos

University of Oxford

Structural role of BET bromodomains in transcription

Panagis's research interests focus on structural comparisons of entire protein families and the discovery of shared and distinct mechanisms that determine substrate recognition and protein regulation, as well as the structure-guided design of specific inhibitors that modulate the function of proteins involved in epigenetic signalling. His laboratory has a particular focus on the structural and functional role of bromo and extra terminal (BET) proteins in transcription initiation and the implications of their dysfunctional behaviour in disease.

Dr Jennifer L Gallop

University of Cambridge

Molecular mechanisms of filopodia formation

Jennifer's research aims to understand the molecular basis of how the actin cytoskeleton and cell membranes are manipulated when cells change their shape. These processes are a vital underpinning of normal morphogenesis, neuronal pathfinding, cancer metastasis and pathogen infectivity.

Dr Tracey Gloster

University of St Andrews

Understanding degradation of heparan sulphate with implications for disease

Tracey is interested in the structure and function of eukaryotic carbohydrate processing enzymes. Currently she is investigating the enzymes responsible for the degradation of heparan sulphate, a component of the extracellular matrix. Using a combination of approaches, including molecular biology, protein production, X-ray crystallography, enzyme kinetics and cell culture, she aims to gain a greater understanding of these enzymes from a mechanistic and structural perspective.

Dr Katie Hampson

University of Glasgow

Hierarchical epidemiology: the spread and persistence of infectious diseases in complex landscapes

Katie is interested in the ecology of infectious diseases, particularly rabies, with the aim of understanding infection dynamics across spatial scales and the impacts of control efforts. She uses a combination of detailed field investigations, vaccination interventions and modelling. Her main areas of research include transmission dynamics, vaccination strategy and surveillance design, and impacts of population structure, demography and geography on spatiotemporal dynamics.

Dr Shane P Herbert

University of Manchester

Transcriptional control of endothelial tip cell behaviour and new blood vessel sprouting

Sprouting of new capillaries from pre-existing vessels (angiogenesis) promotes the formation of almost all blood vessels during development, growth and tissue regeneration. Shane's research, by studying vascular development in zebrafish embryos, aims to decipher the complex molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate angiogenic sprouting.

Dr Sonja Hofer

University College London

Cellular and synaptic mechanisms of learning in cortical circuits

Sonja's research seeks to understand how learning and experience change neuronal circuits and how this contributes to the way the brain functions. She uses advanced imaging techniques to follow the function and structure of individual neurons and their synapses in the intact brain, in order to study what modifications in specific brain circuits underlie plasticity and learning.

Dr Grzegorz Kudla

University of Edinburgh

Functional consequences of synonymous mutations in eukaryotic cells

Grzegorz is particularly interested in synonymous mutations, which do not change protein sequence but can influence mRNA and protein levels. His goal is to understand the role of such mutations in eukaryotic cells. To achieve this, he constructs combinatorial libraries of mutated genes, and measures gene expression and function using high-throughput assays. He also develops new methods to study the roles of protein-RNA and RNA-RNA interactions in gene regulation.

Dr Harry Low

Imperial College London

Structural characterisation of eukaryotic and bacterial dynamins, and in complex with dynamin-associated proteins

In order to overcome the formidable challenge of remodelling membranes within the cell, the dynamin family of proteins has evolved to provide the mechanical power to cut and fuse lipid bilayers. Membrane manipulation is fundamental in core cellular processes such as cell division, cell trafficking, plastid maintenance and anti-viral response. Harry aims to understand at a molecular level not just how dynamins work, but also how its many binding partners recruit and regulate, whilst providing functional specificity in distinct cellular localisations. Dynamins are found in both eukaryotic and bacterial cells and Harry’s research therefore has implications in diseases such as cancer and bacterial infection.

Dr Fiona McGillicuddy

University College Dublin

Functional consequences of obesity-induced adipose tissue inflammation on high-density lipoprotein acceptor capacity and reverse cholesterol transport

Fiona investigates the links between obesity, 'good cholesterol', diet and coronary artery disease. Her research project examines how obesity affects the function of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), sometimes referred to as 'good cholesterol'. HDL plays an important role in removing cholesterol from the body, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attack brought on by cardiovascular disease.

Dr Serge Mostowy

Imperial College London

Controlling the intracellular fate of cytosolic pathogens

Serge studies how host cells control infection by cytosolic host responses, including autophagy and cytoskeleton reorganisation. Using bacterial infection, his research is currently focused on identifying and characterising host and pathogen determinants underlying the intracellular fate of cytosolic bacteria, and investigating the role of discovered molecules and mechanisms in vivo using zebrafish models of bacterial infection. Completion of these objectives may suggest the development of new therapeutic strategies aimed at bacterial infection, and possibly other disease states that also implicate cytosolic host responses.

Dr Gisela Orozco

University of Manchester

Linking genotype to phenotype for the rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility locus 6q23: beyond genome-wide association studies

Gisela works at the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit in the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research. She researches the genetics of rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Richard Poole

University College London

The specification of left-right symmetry in the nervous system

Richard is interested in the mechanisms by which diverse types of neurons develop from a fertilised egg. He studied biology at the University of Sussex and his PhD was in Developmental Biology at University College London. He then moved to Columbia University to study the mechanisms of left-right asymmetric neuron specification with Professor Oliver Hobert. Richard established his own research group at UCL in 2012 as a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow. His team uses the power of C. elegans as an in vivo genetic model system with single-cell resolution to reveal fundamental principles of neural development, which should subsequently provide the basis for novel therapies and brain repair strategies. Richard is focused on uncovering the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate left-right asymmetric neurogenesis, and more recently is expanding his research in a new direction, to address the mechanisms of plasticity and transdifferentiation during glial-derived neurogenesis.  

Dr Arturo Reyes-Sandoval

University of Oxford

Development of a novel vaccine against Plasmodium vivax malaria using adenovirus of chimpanzee origin and modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) as recombinant viral vectors

Arturo's research focuses on the development of viral-vectored vaccines against neglected diseases, particularly Plasmodium vivax malaria. Recombinant adenoviruses and MVA are used to induce protective immune responses to target the parasite’s pre-erythrocytic stage and potentially the hypnozoite. Other tools that are being developed to assess vaccine efficacy are transgenic malaria parasites expressing P. vivax transgenes. His research also seeks to understand how the quality, phenotype and functionality of T cells contribute to protect against malaria, with the aim of finding new correlates of protection and optimising vaccination. The techniques that he commonly uses to address these scientific questions are multi-parameter flow cytometry, cell sorting by FACS, ELISpot, in vivo imaging and gene expression microarrays, and cell transfer to recipient hosts.

Dr Neil W Roach

University of Nottingham

Sensory prediction: the role of forward modelling in visual information processing

Neil's research investigates the mechanisms underlying visual perception and attempts to bridge the gap between psychophysical and neurophysiological levels of analysis. His current focus is on understanding how the human visual system exploits statistical regularities introduced by image motion to construct predictions about future patterns of sensory input. His research aims to characterise the properties and limits of this predictive mechanism and determine its role in visual processing.

Dr Tali Sharot

University College London

Mechanisms underlying optimistic biases in the human brain and their breakdown in disease

Tali leads the Affective Brain Laboratory, investigating how affect (the experience of emotion) influences human cognition and behaviour in normal brain function and in affective disorders (such as depression and anxiety). To tackle these questions she uses brain imaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation, pharmacological manipulations, neuropsychiatric methods, computational models, genetics techniques and behavioural experiments. Her aim is to offer new insight into brain function in both health and disease

Dr Rebeccah Slater

University of Oxford

Imaging pain in the developing human brain

Rebeccah leads the Paediatric and Infant Pain and Anaesthesia (PiPA) group, focusing on understanding the development of human pain processing, with a particular emphasis on improving the treatment of infant pain. She is interested in the critical newborn period when infants are first exposed to tissue injury and begin to process and experience pain. Her group uses a range of non-invasive brain-imaging tools to explore the development of pain in the human nervous system.

Dr Robert James Snelgrove

Imperial College London

The opposing roles of leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4H) in governing pulmonary neutrophilic inflammation

Robert's research focuses on paradigm-shifting studies that detailed the previously unknown extracellular peptidase activity of the enzyme LTA4H. The classical role of LTA4H is as a hydrolase in the intracellular generation of the pro-inflammatory neutrophil chemoattractant leukotriene B4 (LTB4). Therefore, LTA4H is an enzyme with opposing pro-inflammatory (LTB4 generation) and anti-inflammatory (PGP degradation) roles, and the expression and relative activities of this enzyme will be critical in dictating the amplitude and persistence of neutrophilic inflammation. Robert’s research seeks to further dissect the opposing roles of LTA4H in dictating neutrophilic inflammation and to develop novel therapeutic strategies.

Dr Chris Spencer

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford

Statistical methods for understanding the genetics of human disease phenotypes

Chris is a statistical geneticist who has worked on understanding the genetic basis of over 20 common complex diseases through genome-wide association studies, conducted as part of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. These studies include multiple autoimmune diseases, largely in individuals of European ancestry, as well as infectious disease in Kenya, Brazil and India. More recently he has focused on understanding the host genetics of severe malaria susceptibility as part of the MalariaGEN consortium. By developing and applying new methods for combining results from studies of different disease phenotypes with other large-scale genomics data, he aims to gain insights into the underlying molecular mechanisms, as well as the evolutionary processes influencing the distribution of genetic risk factors across populations.

2010

Dr Paul Bays

University College London

Prioritisation of sensory resources for action in the healthy and lesioned brain

Paul is interested in how we use short-term memory and visual attention to guide our actions. He conducts psychophysical, memory and motor performance experiments to investigate these topics in both healthy individuals and neurological patients. His goal is to identify computational mechanisms underlying sensory control of action, and relate them to the neural processes by which they are implemented in the nervous system.

Dr Jeremy Carlton

King's College London

Tumour suppressor functions of membrane trafficking pathways

Jeremy is a molecular cell biologist who has worked on numerous aspects of membrane trafficking in normal and pathophysiological states. More recently, he has been studying the interplay between membrane trafficking and cellular transformation, with focus upon a group of endosomal proteins called the ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) machinery. Jeremy aims to gain insight into how this machinery functions and how alterations in receptor handling that arise due to defects in this machinery can drive tumorigenic phenotypes.

Dr David W Franklin

University of Cambridge

Mechanisms of adaptive sensorimotor control

David is a member of the Computational and Biological Learning Laboratory at the Department of Engineering. His research investigates the physiological mechanisms of human motor learning within a computational framework. This work examines how we develop models of the external world and use these to adapt our movements to new experiences. A major focus of this research is the interaction between the learning of feedforward motor commands and the adaptation of sensory feedback. The methods by which humans solve these problems can then be utilised by robots (and robotic prosthetics) to produce similar adaptation and robustness to an externally changing world.

Dr Eva Frickel

The Francis Crick Institute

A new perspective on anti-Toxoplasma immunity

The long-term goal of Eva's group is to identify novel pathways and mechanisms of host resistance to Toxoplasma gondii. This protozoan parasite infects a broad range of hosts, with a seroprevalence in man of about 30 per cent. It is unclear how Toxoplasma maintains the intricate balance between survival and host defence. Eva is studying how the parasitophorous vacuole is remodelled within host cells to limit parasite replication, as well as how antigen processing is facilitated for presentation to CD8 T cells. In addition, she is characterising the properties and phenotype of memory CD8 T cells in the Toxoplasma-infected brain.

Dr Eileen Gentleman

King's College London

Engineering functional bone-soft tissue interfaces: novel approaches to musculoskeletal regenerative medicine

Eileen's research focuses on utilising novel biomaterial systems and stem cells to create bone and cartilage in the laboratory that could eventually be used to treat cartilage damage before it develops into osteoarthritis. She is particularly interested in the osteochondral interface, the important transitional tissue that connects cartilage to bone, and the role it plays in normal joint function. Her multidisciplinary research interests also include biomineralisation, materials-based characterisation of engineered tissues, and the role of mechano-sensing in tissue development. She has also worked extensively with biomaterials, including bioactive glasses, and is interested in the biological effects of surface energy and ion release on stem cell differentiation.

Dr Sander Granneman

University of Edinburgh

Probing the dynamics of ribosome assembly in yeast

Work in the Granneman laboratory focuses on the dynamics of ribosome synthesis in eukaryotes. Ribosome biogenesis is a highly dynamic process and requires a huge amount of energy and trans-acting factors. Sander's work aims to determine the function of energy-dependent proteins in ribosome synthesis and understand the RNA structural changes that take place during ribosome assembly. The laboratory is developing a high-throughput sequencing and mathematical modelling approaches to allow quantitative measurements of RNA structural changes in vitro and in vivo.

Dr Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir

University of Cambridge

Determinants of oligodendrocyte cell fate in development and disease

Ragnhildur's laboratory aims to understand the role of the synaptic communication between oligodendroctye precursor cells (OPCs) and axons in the central nervous system white matter, specifically focusing on how a release of neurotransmitter can regulate OPC fate determination during development and myelin repair.

Dr Fiona McNab

University College London

Working memory and attention in the young adult and ageing human brain: distractor suppression and cortical-striatal loops

Fiona began researching working memory as a postdoc at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Using fMRI she studied the brain's ability to filter distractors during working-memory tasks. She also investigated the effects of working-memory training on the dopamine system. With her Fellowship, Fiona will continue her research into working memory and distractor filtering.

Dr Karla Miller

University of Oxford

New methods for interrogating white matter microstructure with magnetic resonance imaging

Karla is head of the Advanced Sequence Development Group, within the FMRIB Physics Section. Research in her laboratory focuses on developing new MRI data-acquisition techniques for investigating the brain. In particular, she is interested in MRI methods that provide sensitive measurements of white matter microstructure using susceptibility and diffusion MRI. She also works on functional MRI, high-field imaging and image reconstruction.

Dr Markus Ralser

University of Cambridge

Genome-wide analysis of the interactions that mediate communication between central carbon metabolism and the cellular regulome

Markus is interested in the stability and regulatory role of the metabolic network during ageing and the stress response. Regulatory mechanisms that involve the metabolic network are studied by combining mass spectrometry and functional yeast genomics. His laboratory is primarily interested in dynamic metabolic rearrangements within central carbon metabolism, and their influence on growth and ageing of eukaryotic cells.

Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn

Babraham Institute

Epigenetic and signal transduction interactions in development and stem cell differentiation

Epigenetic processes mediate the balance between self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation in stem cells. Peter and his research group investigate how epigenetic processes are linked to other key cellular pathways, including signal transduction cascades and transcription factors, in order to regulate stem cell function. This research will provide crucial insight into how distinct cell types are formed during development and will uncover new and safer ways to use stem cells for regenerative medicine.

Dr David Withers

University of Birmingham

Innate lymphoid cells in CD4 T cell responses

David's research is focused on understanding the signals involved in the development and maintenance of T cell responses, in particular, the development of memory CD4 T cells, which are essential for developing immunological memory. Immunological memory underpins our strategies of vaccination, so understanding how memory CD4 T cells are generated and maintained is crucial for improving our ability to both vaccinate and modulate unwanted self-reactivity. CD4 T cell responses are initiated within secondary lymphoid tissues such as lymph nodes. Understanding how these structures are formed and maintained is also important for a full understanding of the response.

2009

Dr Mark D Bass

University of Bristol

How is cell migration regulated by the extracellular matrix: role of syndecan-4 and integrin-alpha5beta1 receptors in the regulation of Rho family GTPases

Mark is investigating the direct regulation of integrin trafficking by syndecan-4 that is responsible for the initiation of fibroblast migration upon wounding. The work is supported by investigation of how antagonistic Rac1 and RhoA signals are balanced, resolving how syndecan-4 coordinates the disparate elements of fibroblast signalling during a healing response.

Dr Mikael Bjorklund

University of Dundee

Regulation of cell size in multicellular organisms

Cell growth occurs as cells increase their biomass and divide. While the mechanisms required for cell cycle progression are rather well understood, it is much less clear how cell size is regulated, especially in multicellular organisms. The aim of Mikael's laboratory is to utilise genome-scale approaches to understand how and why cells grow to their characteristic size using Drosophila and mammalian cells as models. In particular, he is interested in elucidating how signalling, translation and metabolism are intertwined in cell size control. Ultimately, studies on cell size may help us to understand diseases such as cancer and diabetes, as many mechanisms known to modulate cell size are affected in these diseases.

Dr Patrick T Caswell

University of Manchester

Regulating intracellular signalling pathways through integrin-mediated endocytic trafficking

Patrick is based in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research within the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on coordination of signals from the extracellular matrix and soluble growth factors and cytokines in cells as they migrate and differentiate, and the role that endocytic trafficking of integrins and other receptors plays in this. He uses a variety of cell biology and biochemistry techniques, including live-cell imaging in 3D-model systems that more closely mimic the physiological environment found in vivo.

Dr Finn Grey

University of Edinburgh

MicroRNAs and viral pathogenesis

Finn's current research has focused on human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) microRNAs. HCMV encodes at least 14 miRNA genes. The use of cutting-edge technologies such as RISC immunoprecipitation and the ability to rapidly manipulate viral genomes through BAC technology has allowed the identification of numerous cellular and viral miRNA targets. This research has already led to novel insights into the role of viral miRNAs as well as the function of miRNAs in general. In addition, previously unknown host-virus interactions have been discovered through miRNA target identification. Because miRNAs can potentially target any cellular gene, and therefore any biological process, the research has the potential to impact on diverse aspects of virus biology and host-virus interaction. The challenge for future research in this area is to develop a more detailed understanding of how these genes are involved in virus biology and why viruses target certain genes by miRNA regulation.

Dr Eric Griffis

University of Dundee

Regulation of myosin II filament assembly and stabilisation, localization and cortical anchoring

Dr Matthew Grubb

King's College London

Activity codes for neuronal maturation in the olfactory bulb: development and adult neurogenesis

Matthew's laboratory at the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology is interested in how electrical activity sculpts the development of the brain, with particular focus on plasticity at the axon initial segment, and on newly generated neurons in the adult olfactory system.

Dr Nadia Guerra

Imperial College London

Regulatory function of NK receptors in pathologies associated with chronic inflammation

Nadia's research focuses on the function and dynamic of the immune response mediated by natural killer (NK) cells upon chronic inflammation. She aims to elucidate the physiological relevance of immunoreceptors expressed by cells in the development of immunopathologies and cancer. A main focus in her laboratory relies on combining state-of-the-art multi-photon imaging with novel mouse models to investigate the behaviour of NK cells during chronic inflammation, with a view to understanding the role they play in cancer progression.

Dr Alexander Hergovich

University College London

Deciphering mammalian MST/hMOB1/NDR/LATS tumour suppressor networks

Alexander is interested in mammalian NDR/LATS kinase signalling. He aims to decipher the key step or steps that are essential for the tumour suppressor activity of this crucial signalling pathway.

Dr Jonathan M Houseley

Babraham Institute

The influence of non-coding RNAs on chromatin structure in budding yeast

The aim of the current research in Jonathan's laboratory is to find and functionally characterise novel non-coding RNAs involved in both chromatin remodelling and DNA stability. He is particularly concentrating on CUT transcripts and the function of the RNA degradation protein Trf4, since Trf4 has known roles in genome stability. Loss of Trf4 stabilises CUT transcripts sufficiently to allow their detection, and also destabilises the genome in a number of ways. Jonathan theorises that this destabilisation may reflect the loss of a Trf4-based mechanism for recruitment of chromatin remodelling factors to sites of CUT transcription.

Dr Rachel McMullan

Imperial College London

Genetic analysis of post-developmental Rho GTPase signalling: identification and characterisation of Rho signalling pathways required during the C. elegans immune response

Rachel's current work in the Division of Cell and Molecular Biology focuses on the role of Rho signalling in the C. elegans innate immune response. She has shown that Rho signalling cooperates with the Ras-MAP kinase pathway to regulate cell shape during the immune response and she is currently using forward and reverse screening approaches to identify the regulators and effectors required for this process.

Dr Kevin Murphy

Cardiff University

Quantifying vascular influences on neurovascular coupling with fMRI

Kevin works at Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) investigating age-related vascular influences on neurovascular coupling. For fMRI to reach its maximum potential, neurovascular coupling changes must be understood and appropriately considered. Using ageing as a model of altered vasculature, Kevin is developing the necessary neuroimaging tools to assess cerebrovascular health. The resulting neurovascular coupling corrections promise to substantially enhance the utility of fMRI in both healthy and clinical groups, benefiting neurological health in an ageing population and translating to any patients with altered vascular dynamics.

Dr Joseph Murray

University of Cambridge

Risk and protective factors for conduct problems and violence in Brazil and Britain

Joseph's research focuses on the development of conduct problems, crime and violence through the life course. From 2011 to 2015 he will investigate biological, psychological and social influences on antisocial behaviour in two birth cohort studies in Brazil (the 1982 and 1993 Pelotas Birth Cohort Studies) and one in Britain (ALSPAC).

Dr Samuel K Sheppard

Swansea University

The genomics of host adaptation in Campylobacter

Sam's research centres on the use of genetics/genomics and phenotypic studies to address complex questions in the ecology, epidemiology and evolution of microbes. His most recent interest focuses upon comparative genome analysis to describe the core and flexible genome of pathogenic bacteria (Campylobacter, Staphylococcus and Escherichia coli) and how this is related to population genetic structuring, the maintenance of species, and the evolution of host/niche adaptation and virulence.

Dr Victoria Southgate

Birkbeck, University of London

The neural basis of action interpretation in human infants

Victoria is based at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck. Her research interests lie in early social cognition. She employs different methods (EEG, NIRS, eye-tracking) to understand how typically developing human infants are able to make sense of others’ actions, perceive them as goal-directed and intentional, and learn from them.

Dr John Vakonakis

University of Oxford

Biophysical studies of pathogenic malaria cytoadherence

Malaria is perhaps the tropical disease most widely studied in the UK, yet it still finds ways to surprise us. John's laboratory works on a molecular system that Plasmodium falciparum develops while infecting human erythrocytes. The parasite creates novel multi-protein structures on the erythrocyte surface, and these are responsible for adhering infected erythrocytes to the microvasculature. This pathogenic adhesion obstructs blood flow and is responsible for tissue damage in severe malaria cases. Crucially, abnormal haemoglobins have been positively selected in areas of endemic malaria because they disable this parasite system. John's group studies the cytoadherence system by biophysical methods, including NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, to learn how to disable it by artificial means. To bridge the gaps between high-resolution protein structures and whole cells, they collaborate with groups doing electron microscopy and in vivo molecular biology.

Dr Lidia Vasilieva

University of Oxford

Role of the exosome complex in RNA quality control

RNAs are involved in many key cellular processes, and even minor alterations in RNA levels are often detrimental and can lead to diseases in humans. Lidia's research is aimed at understanding how the exosome complex, a major RNA processing/degradation machinery, orchestrates different aspects of RNA metabolism: degradation, processing and quality control contribute to gene silencing. Her laboratory is using biochemical, genetic and cell biology approaches to elucidate the exact molecular mechanisms regulating exosome activity and specificity in simple eukaryotes (S. cerevisiae and S. pombe).

Dr Chris Wallace

University of Cambridge

Genes and pathways in type 1 diabetes

Chris is a statistician working with biological datasets to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying human disease, in particular type 1 diabetes. She is particularly interested in disentangling apparently co-localising traits, for example to understand whether the effect of a genetic variant on risk of disease is mediated by its effect on another measured trait such as gene expression, and in exploring methods to examine allelic expression imbalance within individuals.

Dr Mark Walton

University of Oxford

Cortical and mesolimbic dopamine interactions during cost-benefit value calculation

Mark is a neuroscientist working on how circuits and chemicals in the brain are involved in guiding decision-making. His particular focus has been on how different frontal lobe circuits are involved in evaluating information about potential costs and benefits, to allow animals to overcome costs to achieve advantageous outcomes, and in learning from the consequences of our decisions.

2008

Dr Katerina Artavanis-Tsakonas

Imperial College London

Functional proteomic analysis of the ubiquitin pathway during parasitic infections

Katerina's group is studying host-pathogen interactions during parasitic infections, with a particular focus on malaria and the role of the ubiquitin pathway. Using changes in cellular ubiquitination profiles as a measure, they are characterising the underlying host pathways affected during parasite exposure, in an effort to elucidate the mechanisms behind the immune response during infection. In addition, her group is also identifying parasite-derived ubiquitin pathway components that are either essential to pathogen survival or able to interfere with the host ubiquitin machinery.

Dr David C Grainger

University of Birmingham

Studies of bacterial chromosome folding

David is an expert in the field of bacterial chromosome biology. His laboratory is focused on understanding mechanisms of DNA folding in bacteria. He is also interested in how this process impinges upon gene expression, DNA replication and pathogenicity.

Dr Cecilia Lindgren

University of Oxford

Genetics and genomics of central obesity

Dr Krina T Zondervan

University of Oxford

Genetic and molecular epidemiology of endometriosis

Krina's research has focused on the design and application of epidemiological methods in women's health, in particular endometriosis (a common cause of infertility and pelvic pain). She leads a multidisciplinary research group based at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Oxford, investigating the genetic, molecular and environmental epidemiology of endometriosis. The aim is for results to ultimately lead to the development of non-invasive diagnostic tools, novel therapeutic interventions or improved methods of risk prediction, in both high-risk families as well as the general population.

2007

Dr Nuala M McGrath

University of Southampton

Partnerships and sexual behaviour in rural South Africa in the era of HIV and ART

Nuala is an infectious disease epidemiologist with a background in biostatistics. She is based in South Africa with the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies and the Human Sciences Research Council. Her research explores sexual behaviour and relationship dynamics in the era of HIV treatment and testing couples-based interventions to reduce HIV transmission.

People we've funded

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