Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships: people we’ve funded

This list includes current and past grantholders.


Dr Hannah Alfonsa

University of Oxford

The role of diurnal intracellular chloride changes in cortical network activity and plasticity

Cyclical changes between sleep and waking states are a fundamental feature of human and animal physiology. During these different states, the brain exhibits distinct patterns of activity and also different capacities to learn and process information. However, the mechanisms that underlie these differences are not understood.

We want to investigate why mental performance differs depending on the time of day or night. We need to understand the daily changes that take place in our brains at the level of individual nerve cells and groups of nerve cells. I will investigate dynamic changes in inhibitory signalling between nerve cells, which occur in synapses. I will investigate how changes in synaptic inhibition can affect different types of brain activity associated with sleep and waking states. I will also assess how the same changes in synaptic inhibition affect the brain’s capacity to process and store new information throughout the day.

This research will advance our understanding of the cellular processes that underpin diurnal changes in the healthy brain also in disease. This may help us understand why patients with epilepsy, autism, and schizophrenia can often exhibit a combination of cognitive symptoms and disturbances to their sleep.

Dr Robert Beagrie

University of Oxford

Exploring mechanisms of enhancer action in erythropoiesis

Gene expression is orchestrated by thousands of DNA elements called enhancers. Importantly, enhancers activate different combinations of genes in different cell types. This explains variations in the body’s tissues, such as the brain and liver. Mutations in enhancers may also underlie a wide range of human genetic diseases. Despite their paramount importance, the mechanism of gene activation by enhancers is poorly understood.

I aim to study how enhancers switch on their target genes at a critical stage in red blood cell development when early red blood cells are required to rapidly replicate their DNA before they can mature. I will investigate how enhancers interact with the genes they activate during this key stage, which factors bind to the enhancers and how these factors activate the expression of target genes.

This project will advance our understanding of gene regulation in normal development and elucidate how mutations in enhancers cause disease.

Dr David Beal

University of Kent

Protein hydras: enhancing the cytotoxic potential of antibody drug conjugates (ADC)

Antibody drug conjugates (ADC) are a therapeutic innovation, currently used as anti-cancer agents. They combine the selectivity of antibodies, a component of the body’s defence mechanism, with the toxic potential of certain small-molecule drugs. Despite their promise as a therapy, they have suffered setbacks due to side-effects related to their synthesis, which results in many different materials being formed.

I will use both chemical and biological methodologies to create modular materials, with enhanced drug loading that will generate single products and therefore revolutionise current ADC production methods.

These developments will produce step changes in methodology and will provide a platform that, in the longer term, will enable the generation of new and powerful therapeutic agents.

Dr Annika Boldt

Birkbeck, University of London

Explicit representations of uncertainty drive attentional adjustments

People constantly face decisions which are accompanied by an inherent feeling of correctness or incorrectness. Just as we realise the tennis ball we played will most likely hit the net, we can feel more or less confident about our daily decisions. Decision confidence is often described as a direct read-out of decision-inherent uncertainty and it has been found to be surprisingly accurate. However, little is known about the precise purpose that confidence serves.

I want to understand how confidence could help people to optimise their behaviour. According to this idea, whenever there is external feedback that could guide us, confidence – or how accurate we think we are – could help us direct our attention to the most relevant external sources of feedback signals. I propose that how confident we feel affects whether we adopt a wider or narrower attentional focus. I believe that studying the underlying cause of why we feel unconfident, including external or internal factors, will help us better understand these mechanisms. I plan to study these questions in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, who often struggle with uncertainty and who might show impairments in adjusting their attention in an optimal way.

Dr Oliver Brady

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Estimating the burden of dengue, chikungunya and Zika in Latin America

Recent high-profile outbreaks of the mosquito-borne viral diseases of dengue, chikungunya and Zika in Latin America have forced countries to reassess how they document and control these arboviruses. These decisions are based on the number of suspected or confirmed cases from routine hospital-based surveillance. Evidence from community-based surveys, however, suggests that passive surveillance may under-represent the burden, particularly among people who are asymptomatic, clinically complex and also have chronic diseases.

I will estimate the true arboviral burden in Latin America by adjusting for the main biases in passive surveillance data. Models applied to community-based prevalence data will give insight into age biases and the under-recognition of mild disease, while analysis of laboratory testing data will measure the specificity of clinical diagnosis. By combining these different data sources, the burden of the three diseases can be estimated for different areas and years. Feedback from meetings with ministries of health, facilitated by the World Health Organization, will then be used to iteratively improve the analyses.

These burden estimates will provide a valuable evidence base upon which to design future arbovirus control strategies. These strategies could make a significant improvement to public health in Latin America and be reapplied globally for new and emerging arboviral threats.

Catherine Buckley

University of Sheffield

Investigating phosphatidylinositol phosphates in antigen presentation

Specialised immune cells continually engulf and sample their environment looking for foreign molecules. They then alert the immune system of the presence of invading pathogens. Internalised fluid or pathogens are degraded to generate antigens which are subsequently loaded onto specific molecules (major histocompatibility complex class II, MHCII) that transport them back to the cell surface and display them in a signal to the immune system. This process is vulnerable to exploitation by pathogens, which can prevent antigen presentation, meaning the pathogens remain undetected. Despite its importance, the mechanisms by which both the antigens and MHCII are transported in the cell and back to the surface are poorly understood.

I will unpick the mechanisms governing MHCII trafficking using live microscopy and manipulating vesicle trafficking pathways in uninfected cells and those infected with pathogens.

My studies will provide details of the mechanisms behind antigen presentation and how this can be subverted by pathogens.

Christina Carlisi

University College London

Towards an individualised, mechanistic understanding of resilience to mental illness during development: the role of affective processing in adolescence

Adolescence can be a difficult time when emotions are especially important as young people forge new social relationships and become more independent. Adolescence is also a period during which many common mental health difficulties emerge, including anxiety, depression and conduct problems. These difficulties range from mild to severe and it is unsure why some adolescents experience mental health difficulties while others do not. We also do not know the biological factors that influence the development and persistence of these difficulties. We all interpret emotional information in different ways, and these differences may tell us important information about why some adolescents are more vulnerable to developing mental illness.

I will investigate how individual differences in neurobiological and behavioural factors relate to the way emotion is processed and the development of mental health difficulties over time. I will then develop more sensitive tests to explore how these individual differences relate to variability in adolescents’ characterisation of emotions represented by facial expressions.

A better understanding of how these processes work will make it easier to identify these problems earlier in adolescence and treat them before they become more problematic.

Dr Marlou Dirks

University of Exeter

The development of insulin resistance and anabolic resistance during muscle disuse: what is the role of fuel integration?

Short periods of muscle disuse, which occur during hospitalisation or limb immobilisation, lead to rapid muscle loss. The cause is currently unknown, but the way muscles use food energy may be crucial.

I will investigate how the availability of different types of food in the muscle, such as carbohydrates, fat and protein, affects the development of muscle loss due to disuse. Healthy volunteers aged 18–40 years will undergo two days of forearm immobilisation in a cast, during which drugs and diet will be used to alter the availability of food to the muscle under well-controlled laboratory conditions. I will take blood and muscle samples from the forearm to measure how the changes to foodstuff availability affect muscle loss and associated cellular pathways.

This study will help us gain important insights into the roles of muscle disuse and nutrition in muscle health which can be used to develop targeted interventions to preserve muscle mass and health during periods of disuse.

Dr Adrian Duszkiewicz

University of Edinburgh

Functional dissection of the head-direction system

Imagine being home at night during a power outage. Even though you cannot rely on your vision, you should still be able to navigate around the house thanks to the ‘mental map’ stored in your brain. Neurons in several brain areas are thought to act as an internal compass that makes such navigation possible by keeping track of current direction. Each of the ‘head-direction’ neurons that form the compass is activated when an animal’s head is facing a particular direction. It is not yet known how this compass is organised and how it contributes to the mental map of the environment.

The aim of this project is to understand how this mechanism works. I will block the connections between different brain areas that form the head-direction system in order to establish the function of each connection. These connections will then be blocked while mice are trying to find their way in a maze in order to determine how this internal compass allows animals to navigate.

The ability to navigate around the environment is affected in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, and a better understanding of the brain’s navigation systems will help us explain what happens when they are compromised.

Dr Neil Garrett

Princeton University, USA

Neural mechanisms supporting environment evaluation in humans and their breakdown in clinical disorders

We make choices by evaluating how rewarding our environment is. This needs to be a continual process of reassessment as environments constantly change.

I plan to use mathematical models and brain imaging to characterise how the human brain updates its assessment of the rewards that can be found in different environments. I will examine whether healthy people are reluctant to adjust beliefs when their environment is deteriorating compared with when it is improving. I will then compare people with anxiety with healthy people to see if anxiety makes people more responsive to information that leads to a pessimistic perception of the environment as this is a common feature of clinical disorders such as depression.

Dr Marlous Hall

University of Leeds

Healthcare utilisation and clinical outcomes among survivors of acute myocardial infarction: a national electronic health records cohort study

Many people now survive a heart attack because of better use of heart attack treatments. However, heart attacks are still very common and remain a leading cause of death worldwide. Most patients who have a heart attack are older and have other conditions such as diabetes or lung disease. It is not clear whether all patients who have a heart attack and also have additional conditions will receive the same life-saving treatments as those without these conditions.

My research will use the national heart attack register to study the care provided to patients with and without these additional conditions. Patients are living longer after having a heart attack so there is also a higher chance of them developing further conditions later in life. While we already know the chance of a second heart attack, we do not yet know the chances of developing other conditions such as cancer or dementia. I will use existing data from visits to doctors and hospital admissions to determine the chances of developing such conditions after having a heart attack.

This research hopes to provide a better understanding of the care needed before and after a heart attack to ultimately help save more lives.

Dr Gemma Hammerton

University of Bristol

An investigation of the causal pathways from childhood conduct problems to poor health outcomes and criminal behaviour in adulthood

Conduct problems (CPs), including behaviours such as stealing and fighting, are common in childhood and there is increasing evidence that they can affect multiple adverse outcomes in adulthood including antisocial behaviour, psychiatric disorders and poor physical health. However, there is little evidence regarding possible explanations for these strong associations.

I will test three competing explanations for the associations observed between childhood CPs and adverse outcomes in adulthood using population-based datasets from the UK and Brazil – a  middle-income country with high levels of CPs and violent crime.
Hypothesised explanations include ongoing adversity throughout life, such as financial hardship, shared early risks, such as impaired emotion recognition, and ‘snares’ in young adulthood, such as substance misuse. The different explanations would have different clinical implications. 

The findings will be used to inform intervention strategies to reduce the risk of negative consequences arising from childhood CPs.

Dr Lindsey Hines

King's College London

Understanding the antecedents and outcomes of frequent adolescent cannabis use

Cannabis is increasingly available as a legal drug around the world, and we can expect use among adolescents to increase. Frequent cannabis use at a young age increases the likelihood of health problems in adulthood, including depression and anxiety.

I will use interview data collected at multiple times in participants’ lives, from childhood onwards to understand what causes frequent use of cannabis in adolescence and what the relationship is between cannabis use in adolescence and mental health in adulthood.

This project explores the extent to which stress in early life can cause frequent cannabis use in adolescence, and how much this relationship is due to the behaviour and mental health of frequent users. I will consider the relationship between frequent cannabis use in adolescence with depression and anxiety, exploring the extent to which an association between these is due to low employment, drug use and heavy alcohol use after adolescence.

Dr Robert Hynds

University College London

Harnessing pre-clinical lung cancer patient models for precision immuno-oncology

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK in both men and women. Therapies that modulate the immune system have shown promise as cancer treatments but to improve outcomes for lung cancer patients we need to develop better laboratory models to study the response of the disease to therapies.

The TRAcking Cancer Evolution through therapy (Rx) (TRACERx) clinical study at UCL is tracking the diversity of lung tumours to understand their resistance to therapy. I will use tumour samples and immune cells from the TRACERx study to model human lung cancer both in the laboratory and in animals. We expect to be able to select and expand cultures of immune cells that can kill tumour cells and could form the basis of future therapies.

The findings of the study will inform future treatments to improve the ability of a patient’s immune system to fight cancer.

Cinzia Imberti

King's College London

Shedding light on platinum chemotherapy: a new mechanistic approach

Platinum-based drugs are the workhorses of cancer chemotherapy. Nevertheless, their mode of action is not fully understood, they have severe side-effects, and a significant number of patients do not respond to treatment. New platinum drugs that can be ‘switched on’ by light irradiation at a tumour site, represent a promising alternative to traditional platinum drugs.

I will investigate the ways in which clinically-established and novel platinum drugs exert their anti-cancer activity, combining radionuclide imaging in animal models with genetic testing to identify their cellular/molecular targets. I will use these findings to develop complexes that can be photoactivated and have reduced side-effects and enhanced efficacy upon irradiation by attaching to antibodies targeting cancer cells and chromophores, respectively.

This project will enhance our understanding of the mode of action of platinum drugs and contribute to the development of safer chemotherapeutic treatments with a better patient-therapy match.

Dr Kamila Jozwik

University of Cambridge

Explaining the heterogeneity and topography in inferior temporal cortex with deep neural networks

Humans recognise objects almost immediately – a brief glance is sufficient to recognise the face of a friend. Our everyday actions and interactions depend on object recognition which depends on a complex neural architecture in the visual cortex. The inferior temporal (IT) cortex is a particularly important part of the brain for object recognition. IT contains regions that respond preferentially to faces, colour and places. Despite a recent period of extensive study, we still do not understand how the selectivity of these regions emerges and how they are organised.

I propose to use computational models called deep neural networks to understand why the IT cortex has the structure it does. I will test whether similar structures emerge in our models by comparing brain activity measured in monkeys and humans.

This research will reveal the basic principles of object recognition, which are essential for human cognition and everyday life.

Dr Myrsini Kaforou

Imperial College London

Understanding and diagnosing infectious diseases using multi-level 'omics data

The immune system is our defence against foreign microorganisms and our genetic make-up determines the nature and intensity of the response to pathogens. Advances in biochemistry and computer science have allowed for relatively low-cost and high-throughput identification of patients’ DNA, as well as quantification of processes triggered by an infection such as gene expression (RNA) and protein expression. This technical revolution has created unprecedented quantities of data.

Although the analysis of these individual datasets is standard research practice, I aim to develop computational methods that can link and analyse the information from multiple levels of data (DNA, RNA and the protein) from patients with infectious diseases so we can better understand and diagnose disease. We will also reveal groups of patients with specific characteristics who would benefit from personalised interventions and treatments. 

The findings of this research can be used to support clinical decisions and pave the way to personalised medicine.

Dr Gemma Learmonth

University of Glasgow

Brain Rhythms in Altered Vision After Stroke (BRAVAS)

Stroke affects 152,000 people in the UK each year, and most will experience visual problems. Hemispatial neglect is a debilitating disorder in which patients behave as though one side of their visual world (usually the left) no longer exists. It is difficult to treat, and is linked to poor overall recovery and lower quality of life. In the healthy brain, groups of cells fire together at different speeds called oscillations. Oscillations help the brain to make sense of the world by enhancing or suppressing the incoming visual information before further processing. Some oscillations are disrupted by stroke, but we do not know how they are affected in hemispatial neglect.

I aim to identify how oscillations change after stroke both in the short and longer term. This information will be used to improve vision by actively changing disrupted oscillations using biofeedback and brain stimulation interventions.

My findings will help to develop a new treatment for hemispatial neglect.

Dr Romy Lorenz

Imperial College London

Fractionating the human frontoparietal cortex: combining meta-analytic and real-time optimisation approaches

Brain scans have established that intelligent behaviour, such as learning, adapting and solving problems, is supported by a set of brain regions known as the multiple-demand (MD) system. However, due to limitations in standard brain scanning methods, we do not know how distinct subdivisions of this system contribute to intelligence.

I will develop a new method that combines two powerful techniques. I will integrate information from thousands of existing studies, gathering the current knowledge we have about the MD system. This knowledge will then be refined using advanced real-time brain scanning, providing a detailed understanding of the role of MD subdivisions in intelligence.

Disruptions in the MD system are reported across many mental and neurological conditions. A better understanding of this system could inform therapy and the design of sensitive tests, allowing the early detection of disease.

Dr Holly Lovegrove

University of Manchester

Adaptation of cell division to acute environmental spatial contraints

New cells have to be generated via cell division (known as mitosis) so the body can grow and maintain tissues. Much of our knowledge about cell division comes from studies performed using systems where single isolated cells are grown in a dish. However, many cell types, including invasive cancer cells, have to divide while squeezing between other cells and tissues. It is thought that undergoing cell division while being compressed can cause errors to occur, leading to the production of damaged cells.

My research uses the migrating cells of developing blood vessels to understand whether cell division under these more extreme circumstances is carried out in the same manner as in isolated cells. I am particularly interested in how the shape of the cell is affected and how this affects the success of the division. This research will be largely carried out in zebrafish embryos as their transparency and capacity to develop outside the adult fish make them ideal for visualising the dynamic nature of cell division in a complex living system.

Dr Colin McNamara

University of Oxford

Closing the loop on neuronal oscillations: motor networks take centre stage

I want to understand how information spanning vast cortical networks is combined to inform decisions and actions. One theory is that synchronisation in rhythmic activity across brain areas creates temporary connections that drive complex and simple actions.

I will create a digital circuit to monitor and interact with rhythmic/oscillatory activity in a closed loop in mice. Higher order thalamic areas project throughout the cortex and are ideally placed to facilitate this synchronisation. I will measure the activity of hundreds of neurons across motor and premotor cortices while activating this projection based on cortical activity.

My results will increase understanding of motor systems and address mechanisms of general brain function that are relevant to processes such as attention and working memory.    

Dr Elizabeth Michael

University of Cambridge

Applying causal interventions to brain networks underlying adaptive perceptual decision-making

Our brains are organised into a number of distinct regions, each of which is specialised to play a different role in guiding our behaviour. However, the relative influence of individual brain regions on our behaviour changes as we learn and adapt to the world around us. One challenge in studying these questions in the human brain is determining which of these many signals is causally relevant for behaviour.

I will use brain stimulation techniques to change brain activity in a controlled manner to test how behaviour changes as stimulation is applied across a number of different regions. Critically, I will also record brain activity while applying stimulation. I can then match changes in behaviour to changes in underlying brain activity. I will also be able to measure how different brain regions influence each other. For example, I will test whether our ability to ignore irrelevant information gets better with practice, which brain areas guide this learning and also how these changes are implemented.

This work will move our understanding of the brain away from the idea of it being a static computer with fixed components towards a model of dynamic interaction guided by our environment.

Dr Sofia Morfopoulou

University College London

Development of metagenomics-based diagnostics of infectious diseases

Establishing the cause of infectious diseases can be difficult. Standard techniques are rapid and sensitive but require knowledge of potential infectious agents. The lack of a timely diagnosis can have a negative effect on patient prognosis and result in increased healthcare costs. Sequencing of both host and microorganism’s nucleic acids from clinical samples (clinical metagenomics) can fill this diagnostic gap. Metagenomics data analysis for pathogen detection is a complicated task, not unlike searching for a needle in a haystack.

I will develop a novel probabilistic method which has already been used to diagnose eight cases of encephalitis. I will use my knowledge of statistics and genomics to allow me to determine whether joint analysis of pathogen and host data can result in a definitive diagnostic test. I will collaborate with prominent clinician scientists who lead UK-wide patient cohort studies. I will analyse large collections of metagenomic datasets generated from patients with a variety of infectious diseases.

I aim to broaden our understanding of devastating infectious diseases, such as encephalitis and meningitis. Achieving a definitive diagnostic test would minimise the risk of medical mismanagement, such as incorrect prescription of antibiotics.

Dr Adrian Najer

Imperial College London

Artificial host cell membrane mimics for antimalarial research and applications

Malaria is an infectious disease that particularly affects children, killing half a million each year.

I will evaluate an alternative strategy against malaria that provides both treatment and vaccination. It will treat an existing infection in a way that activates the immune system to protect against future infections. This is known as nanotherapy-mediated vaccination. Various nanostructures will be designed for this purpose and evaluated to block the invasion of host cells by malaria parasites. A sequential targeting approach will be tested to first block pathogen invasion and then target immune cells to tune the immune response.

This project will challenge current understanding on the involvement of biochemical and physical parameters on parasite invasion by using giant host cell mimics, which will help us better understand the invasion process.

Dr Carolyn Nielsen

University of Oxford

The impact of vaccine platform on the cellular drivers of humoral immunity

Vaccines introduce our immune systems to a harmless form of a pathogen, inducing our B cells to produce protective pathogen-specific antibodies. Not all vaccines are equally effective at driving these B-cell responses. One important factor is the ‘platform’ of the vaccine, i.e. how the pathogen is delivered.

I will use three approaches to compare antibody and memory B cell (mBC) responses between two malaria vaccines with different platforms. I will develop tools to isolate pathogen-specific mBCs post-vaccination, and I will link the type of mBC to the quality of the antibodies produced. I will then perform gene expression analyses of the mBCs.

These studies will help us understand how a vaccine platform affects the cellular responses driving antibody immunity so that we can optimise vaccines to increase antibody production. While I will be working with malaria vaccines, these principles should be applicable to other diseases.

Dr Michal Pasternak

Imperial College London

How are Plasmodium falciparum proteins directed to the parasite translocon to reach the host cell?

Malaria-causing parasites need to export a large number of proteins into the infected red blood cell so that they can survive. This protein trafficking provides an attractive target for the development of antimalarial drugs but the mechanisms governing this process are poorly understood.

I will use genome editing and super-resolution microscopy to unravel the key steps of parasite protein export by dissecting how exported proteins are directed to the translocon, a molecular machine that enables proteins to reach the host cell. I will develop the first protocol to high-resolution images of protein trafficking inside living parasites for prolonged periods of time. I will then attempt to determine the structure of the translocon inside the cell.

With this research I hope to identify new targets for drug discovery as well as developing novel tools for studies on protein trafficking inside living parasites.

Ruairi Robertson

Queen Mary University of London

Metagenomics and metabolomics of severe acute malnutrition (META-SAM)

Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) affects 13 million children worldwide. There are two main forms: oedematous SAM and non-oedematous SAM. Oedematous SAM has more complex symptoms including liver disease and diarrhoea. However, standard treatments are the same for both diseases. It is unclear why a child develops one form of SAM rather than the other. Microbes in the intestines (microbiota) may contribute to SAM. Healthy gut microbiota regulates the immune system, food digestion/absorption and growth. Disease in the gut microbiota could interfere with these processes. However, there has been little research that has compared the microbiota in oedematous SAM compared with non-oedematous SAM and its role in disease symptoms.

I will examine 200 healthy children and children with oedematous SAM and non-oedematous SAM. Stool, urine and blood samples will be collected when each child is admitted to hospital, at discharge, and 12, 24 and 48 weeks post discharge. I will analyse bacterial DNA to identify what types of bacteria are in the intestines of each group and analyse metabolites in the blood and urine to identify how a diseased microbiota affects normal metabolism with a particular focus on: protein breakdown, the immune system and liver disease. I will also analyse these outcomes after treatment to identify if they contribute to relapse and if they could be targets for treatment.

This research could contribute to the development of treatment for SAM.

Dr Michael Robson

University of Edinburgh

Using human disease and genome engineering to dissect dynamic genome organisation at the nuclear lamina in vivo during development

The specialisation of an embryo’s cells into the many cell types of the body is achieved by precisely activating or inactivating specific genes at the appropriate time and place. To achieve this precision, genes are isolated from the noise of the wider genome by locally folding with nearby DNA to form discrete structures called topologically-associated domains (TADs). When this fails because of removal or rearrangement of TAD boundaries by mutation there will be inappropriate gene activity and disease. During development some TADs also attach and detach from the nuclear lamina at the nucleus’s outer edge, turning associated genes off. However, it is unknown if disease-causing TAD-rearranging mutations also disrupt lamina attachment, impairing its control of gene activity.

I will measure altered lamina attachment in developing mouse limbs that have TAD-rearranging mutations and monitor how this pathogenically affects gene activity and limb formation. I will also develop methods to specifically observe lamina-attached TAD structures and measure how disease-causing mutations disrupt them.

This research will unravel lamina attachment’s purpose in development, allowing the effects of mutations that alter the genome’s 3D organisation to be predicted in patients.

Dr Richard Rosch

University College London

Genes to networks – insights into dynamic brain pathology from genetic epilepsies

Epilepsy is one of the most common primary neurological conditions of childhood. Many of the severe childhood epilepsies are caused by mutations in neuronal genes. Some of these mutations can also induce epileptic seizures in zebrafish larvae, making them a useful animal model of the disease. They are particularly interesting to study because light-sheet microscopy allows us to record their brain activity at single-cell resolution.

I will analyse EEG recordings from patients, and light-sheet microscopy from zebrafish larvae with mutations in two ‘epilepsy genes’ (SCN1A, and GRIN2A). I will combine these recordings with advanced computational analysis tools which will allow me to identify how molecular abnormality induced by a mutation causes abnormal neuronal function, ultimately resulting in whole-brain dynamics that underlie epileptic seizures.

This more detailed understanding of the genotype-phenotype relationship will help in developing novel, targeted therapies for epilepsy.

Dr Susanne Schweizer

University College London

Enhancing emotion regulation in adolescence: a developmental window of opportunity

Emotion regulation allows people to set aside feelings of sadness so they are able to  concentrate on other tasks. It employs executive control, which is the ability to respond to information that is relevant to current goals while ignoring distractions. Executive control helps inhibit unhelpful responses to emotions, such as rumination, and helps select appropriate emotion regulation strategies, such as thinking about negative experiences from a different perspective. The ability to regulate emotion is thought to greatly improve during adolescence.

I will investigate how emotion regulation changes during adolescence as executive control increases and whether it can be improved using online training.

If successful, the emotion regulation training can be made freely available on mobile devices and can be used to improve well-being.

Dr Francesca Solmi

University College London

Using modern causal inference methods and general population data to investigate the role of inflammation in the aetiology of eating disorders

Eating disorders are severe psychiatric conditions that usually start in adolescence. Their cause is poorly understood. Research has shown that infections experienced as a fetus and in childhood, autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, and inflammation in response to infection or injury could increase a person’s risk of developing mental health problems, including depression and psychosis. However, little research has investigated the relationship between inflammation and eating disorders.

I will study whether a person’s risk of developing an eating disorder is increased by: exposure to infection during pregnancy or childhood; having high levels of inflammation in childhood; or having high genetic risk for autoimmunity. I will investigate this using data from large datasets and biological markers of inflammation and genes.

This research will help us understand more about what causes eating disorders so that we can develop interventions to reduce the risk.

Dr Chen Song

Cardiff University

Influence of sleep on human brain structure

We spend one third of our lives asleep, during which time the brain is disconnected from the environment. Sleeping increases our vulnerability and prevents us engaging in more productive behaviour which suggests that it must have an important function. While we are asleep, our brains disconnect from the environment enabling different brain regions to show independent, decoupled activities. I hypothesise that the inter-regional decoupling that occurs during sleep facilitates the remodelling and optimisation of structural networks in the brain, leading to improved functioning and cognition.

I will use magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and closed-loop stimulation to explore how brain activity during sleep induces beneficial changes in the structure of brain connections and the function of brain communications that underlie the cognitive benefits of sleep.

My findings will shed light on how sleep benefits the brain.

Dr Christopher Toepfer

University of Oxford

Mechanisms by which missense variants in myosin and myosin-binding protein C alter cellular contractility in genetic cardiomyopathies

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the UK and around the world and its prevalence continues to grow. Heart failure occurs when cardiac muscle is unable to meet the body’s demands for oxygen and nutrients. It can emerge due to many factors which alter the heart’s structure and function.

I aim to discover the molecules and pathways that are changed by genetic factors that cause heart failure. I will introduce specific genetic changes identified in human volunteers into human stem cells that can become beating heart cells. Using this ‘heart-on-a-dish’ system, I will compare the contraction and relaxation, biochemistry, and molecular responses of cultured heart cells and tissues to discover the important processes that allow heart muscle to function or to fail. I want to understand how genetic changes in the same gene cause different forms of heart failure and whether two closely related genes cause a similar type of heart failure and which genetic changes lead to heart failure and which do not.

This research will discover mechanisms of disease that can inform new therapies to limit or prevent human heart failure. 

Dr Tobias Wauer

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Structure and mechanism of chromatin regulators

Genes encoded by DNA contain instructions for all functions of the cell. The cell has to fit the 2m long DNA into a nucleus which has a diameter that is one tenth of a human hair in a structure called chromatin. However, the high level of condensation makes it hard for the cell to access DNA. 

I will set out to understand the cellular machinery that regulates access to defined regions of DNA and how defects in this process lead to diseases like cancer and neurological disorders. A major obstacle to the understanding of molecular machines is that they are embedded in the complex environment of the cell. To overcome this problem we will generate isolated complexes that are involved in chromatin regulation. It is difficult to understand and repair a malfunction if the general architecture is unknown so we will determine the molecular structure of chromatin regulators by using electron microscopy.

We will use the generated complex to understand their mechanism by observing the activity of single molecular machines and validate our findings in a cellular context.

Toby Wise

University College London

Pathological aversive learning as a mechanism in clinical anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder, affecting 30% of people at some point in their life. Despite this, the disorder remains poorly understood. Major symptoms of anxiety disorders relate to uncertainty – people with clinical anxiety feel uncertain about the possibility of threatening events occurring and this uncertainty leads to feelings of anxiety.

I will use methods from computational neuroscience to understand the ways in which people judge how certain they are about negative events in their environment, and why the process of judging uncertainty goes awry with clinical anxiety. I will build computational models of how people process uncertainty and explore how altering the working of these models captures how people with anxiety disorders behave under uncertainty in threatening situations. I will then examine ways in which the brain implements these models of uncertainty and how brain function contributes to this process becoming dysfunctional in people with clinical anxiety.

This approach can pave the way for research into targeting core abnormalities that offer potential treatment avenues for anxiety disorders.


Dr Paride Antinucci

University College London

Neural mechanisms linking perception to action in zebrafish prey hunting behaviour

Every day, we rely on our senses to effectively interact with our surrounding environment. To do so, our brain has to create ‘meaningful images’ or perceptions of sensory stimuli and uses these images to make decisions on whether and how to execute appropriate sequences of actions known as ‘motor programs’. For example, the perception of an apple (round red fruit) can lead to a decision (delicious! eat it) and subsequent actions – arm extension, grabbing, arm retraction etc. Scientists have achieved a good understanding of how the brain creates neural representations, or activation patterns of brain cells, underlying the individual steps of this process. However, we are still far from understanding how these neural representations are linked together and coordinated in the brain.

I aim to start tackling this biological problem by finding out how actions are generated from perception using the larval zebrafish, a model organism that allows combined advanced technologies to monitor behaviour while brain activity is simultaneously recorded or manipulated. I aim to reveal key cellular substrates and mechanisms underlying the execution of a well-described visual behaviour – prey hunting – in  response to defined visual stimuli.

Dr Albert Antolin

Institute of Cancer Research

Harnessing polypharmacology in precision oncology

The discovery of better drugs is crucial to improving the treatment of disease. Currently, drugs are designed to inhibit a single protein believed to be responsible for a given disease. However, recent research has started to question our understanding of drug action by revealing that drugs often bind to more than one protein, a behaviour called polypharmacology. In clinical trials of new drugs some patients have an exceptional response to a given drug or show side-effects that we cannot currently explain. It is essential that we gain a better understanding of how drugs work to make the most of them and benefit the largest number of patients.

My research will use computational methods to analyse clinical, biological and chemical data in order to better understand drug efficacy and safety. I will analyse biological data to identify which new patients could benefit from treatment with currently available drugs based on the polypharmacology I have discovered.

This new approach offers an unprecedented and timely opportunity to better understand how drugs work and will enable us to make the most of the drugs we currently have to improve human health.

Dr Paula Banca

University of Cambridge

From habits to compulsions: the role of glutamate and serotonin in obsessive compulsive disorder

This proposal aims to understand why and how humans lose control over behaviour. Two distinct neural systems are thought to interact to control behaviour: the goal-directed system, supporting intentional behaviours, and the habitual system that underlies  automatic actions. These two systems should be in appropriate dynamic balance. Compulsivity is thought to arise from an imbalance in this interaction, causing patients to rely more on habit. 

I will characterise how and where the brain decides between intentional and automatic actions  after habits are established. The aim is to describe how a healthy brain breaks habits and a compulsive brain shifts from habits to compulsions. I will use different experimental conditions to examine how distinct motivational signals affect these choices, investigating whether fear prevents or enables participants to break habits in optimal ways. I will also investigate whether the abnormal imbalance towards the habit system observed in compulsive disorders is caused by a loss of control in frontal brain areas and whether this relates to abnormalities in the concentrations of three major brain chemical neurotransmitters: glutamate, GABA and serotonin.

The findings of the study can be used to develop new therapies to help patients resist compulsions.

Dr Vassilis Bitsikas

University College London

Resolving the functions of uncharacterised signalling proteins using zebrafish

Cells communicate and coordinate their activity and behaviour using molecular signals. Such signalling events form the basis of development. The recently discovered Toddler signalling pathway provides an entry point to uncover novel mechanisms that regulate cell movement. Toddler is a ubiquitous signal that promotes movement of cells during early development of embryos but it is not known how Toddler increases cell motility.

I will analyse how Toddler affects the adhesion and shape of cells. I will then identify novel signals that guide the development of the nervous system.

The brain is the most complex organ in our body and the developmental principles that guide the emergence of such levels of complexity are not well understood. Identifying the cellular and molecular functions of novel signalling molecules will provide new insights into brain development, physiology and behaviour.

Dr Dani Bodor

University College London

Molecular control of adhesion-free migration

Cell migration is important during many healthy processes such as the movement of immune cells to the site of infection when a pathogen enters the body. It is also important to many disease processes, for example defective cell migration underlies the transformation of healthy tissue to metastatic cancer. Cells can use different strategies to move depending on the cell type or surface that they move along, among other things.

My research focuses on a newly discovered type of cell migration, where rearward flows of the cell-peripheral structure called the cortex are converted to forces that push the cell forward. However, nothing is known about how this cortex, which resides inside the cell, interacts with the exterior substrate upon which the cell moves. In this project, I will study the molecular link between these structures using a combination of techniques from bioengineering, microscopy, genome editing and computer simulation.

Knowledge of the mechanisms and interplay of the different ways that cells move is essential for a proper understanding of important processes such as development and diseases such as cancer.

Dr Linford Briant

University of Oxford

Functional and computational analyses of the regulation of glucagon secretion in health and disease

The level of glucose in the blood is tightly controlled in the body so it can function healthily. The pancreas contains cells that are designed to maintain a constant, healthy level of blood glucose, beta cells and alpha cells. Beta cells secrete insulin, which acts to store away excess glucose when blood glucose levels are too high. In people with diabetes, these cells do not secrete enough insulin and blood glucose levels become dangerously high, known as hyperglycaemia. The alpha cells act when blood glucose becomes too low (hypoglycaemia) by secreting glucagon. This hormone acts to increase blood glucose levels. Diabetes is often characterised by damaged alpha cells; in response to low blood glucose, these cells fail to secrete glucagon. This can be fatal and hypoglycaemia is a major cause of mortality in diabetes. Beta cells have been extensively investigated by scientists but alpha cells have received much less attention.

In this project I will investigate the mechanisms by which glucose controls glucagon secretion from alpha cells and how these mechanisms can go wrong, resulting in the inability of these cells to appropriately secrete glucagon. I will investigate this by measuring electrical activity from alpha cells, as it is their electrical activity that triggers glucagon secretion. I will also study computational models of alpha cell activity.

Dr Agathe Chaigne

University College London

Heterogeneities in stem cell mechanics during division and exit from pluripotency

Some cells can divide asymmetrically, which means that the two cells that are formed will have different sizes, content and/or fate. Stem cells that have the ability to self-renew and give rise to different cell types are usually thought to be able to undergo asymmetric divisions. However, it is not known if embryonic stem cells that are able to give rise to all cells in the organism undergo asymmetric divisions, and whether this influences which type of cells they become.

We will examine whether asymmetries in size, content or physical properties arise during embryonic stem cell division in mice. Since these cells also form colonies, we will also investigate how stem cell division is influenced by the position of the cell within a colony. We will induce asymmetric divisions and track the fate of the two cells.This will allow us to understand how mechanical forces influence the cells’ long-term fate.

This research will give us new understanding of the biology of stem cell division, which is essential for controlled application of embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine.

Dr Susu Chen

University College London

Elucidating the neural basis of active sensing in the cerebellar cortex

Sensory processing is naturally intertwined with active movements in animals. In contrast to passive stimulation, the processing of sensory inputs is related to even subtle adaptive actions of the animal during active sensing. For example, mice sense the world by actively moving their whiskers and tactile processing is strongly dependent upon this movement.

This project aims to determine basic principles by which the brain processes and integrates sensorimotor information during natural behaviour using the accessible mouse whisker system as a model. I will track whisking behaviour via videography and simultaneously record neuronal activities in the cerebellum – a key brain structure involved in the real-time integration of sensory and motor signals.

Gaining a better understanding of the neural mechanisms of active sensing is not only important in its own right, it is likely to bring us a step closer to understanding brain dysfunctions in neurological disorders, such as autism, where sensorimotor integration and learning is disrupted. New knowledge on computations performed by the brain, in particular the cerebellum, will also be essential for developing better brain/machine interfaces and inspiring new robotic technologies.

Dr Rocco Chiou

University of Manchester

Dissecting the dynamics between frontotemporal language network and sensory cortices in perceiving, recognising and using objects

There is a transitional process that converts sensory-motoric experiences, such as contracting leg muscles, to conceptual knowledge - understanding the difference between jumping, running and kicking. For centuries, social scientists have been studying human cognition using psychometric measures. The advent of neuroimaging and neurostimulation significantly broadens our understanding about conceptual knowledge and how it is implemented in the brain.
I aim to unravel the mechanisms in the brain that enable humans to conceptualise the world. This research will straddle biomedical science (neuroimaging, neuroanatomy) and social science (cognitive psychology, linguistics). This multidisciplinary approach is crucial. Approaching from a combined brain-behaviour angle, I will fuse neuroscientific investigation with cognitive-psychological models to generate a a theory that links cognition – all semantically-driven verbal /non-verbal behaviour – to the brain as multiple functionally independent neural modules or an integrated network. I will be investigating the principal cognitive dimensions that the brain adopts to categorise objects and where they are implemented neurally; the circumstances in which conceptual knowledge guides perception and where this occurs; and how the brain formulates knowledge about abstract entities and how it differs from knowledge about perceptible concrete objects.

Dr Francesc Coll I Cerezo

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Application of phylogenetic, statistical and computational approaches to unravel genotype-phenotype associations in pathogenic bacteria

The introduction of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in microbial genetics has recently become possible as a result of falling DNA sequencing costs. GWAS can help us discover the genes that make bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics, able to cause infection and colonise and transmit within and beyond their host population. Despite the potential of GWAS to characterise the genetic determinants of bacterial phenotypes, its wider adoption has been hindered by limited expertise and lack of methods suitable to bacterial genomes. 

I will develop robust GWAS designs suitable for bacterial genomes and provide practical guidelines for future studies. I will evaluate the performance of different GWAS designs using four large bacterial collections with available whole-genome sequences (WGS) and antimicrobial resistance phenotypes. I will also develop and release a software tool implementing the GWAS methods.

Dr Katharine Coyte

University of Oxford

Principles of community development within the gut microbiome

The human gut contains a diverse community of microbes that are crucial for our health, yet how these communities are acquired and develop is relatively unknown.

I aim to build a mathematical and experimental system to better understand what determines how these microbial communities develop. I will build a set of mathematical models that describe how microbes interact with one another and respond to environmental changes. These models will be used to simulate different microbial communities in order to study how different factors affect community development. I will also use different theoretical and experimental techniques in order to study the acquisition and development of microbial communities in newborns. I will use the mathematical models to make predictions about how these communities develop, which I will then test in mice. This will give insight into both the specific features of newborn microbial communities and the broader drivers of microbial community development.

Healthy microbial communities are critical for our health, and disturbances to their development correlate with a range of diseases. Determining what governs community development is vital if we wish to design medical techniques based on manipulating microbial communities.

Dr John Robert Davis

The Francis Crick Institute

Dissecting the role of cell tensegrity in integrating signalling networks

Regenerative medicine, where damaged tissues are replaced with artificially grown healthy copies, promises to provide major benefits to human health. We need to understand how cells, the building blocks of life, behave appropriately and not wildly like cancer cells. Cells can sense their surroundings and change their behaviour accordingly so if cells are stretched they will make more cells to reduce the amount they themselves are stretched. However, tissue cells exist in environments where they get mixed signals, telling them to do different things. It is a mystery how cells are able to process all of these messages into a coherent response, such as whether to grow or die.

I will grow cells in an environment where I can give them conflicting signals to see how they respond. I will stretch cells and see if they produce a signal indicating they are growing and then see what happens if I give them the opposite message, telling them not to grow. The aim is to build a computer model allowing us to understand and predict how cells would behave in different environments.

The results of this work could help make regenerative medicine a reality.

Dr Thomas Deegan

University of Dundee

Molecular mechanisms of DNA replication termination

Life begins as a single cell, which must then divide many times to produce the trillions of cells that make up complex organisms. Every time a cell divides, it must make a complete, new copy of every one of its 46 chromosomes, each of which consists of a single DNA molecule that contains an individual’s genetic blueprint. Any mistakes made during the copying process are a threat to this genetic blueprint and can cause diseases such as cancer. An improved understanding of the mechanism and regulation of chromosome duplication is therefore essential.

I plan to study the molecular machine that controls chromosome duplication, focusing on how this machine functions during the poorly understood final stages of the duplication process.

This work will contribute towards our understanding of the origin and treatment of cancer.

Dr Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz

University College London

Cellular and network mechanisms of hippocampal-prefrontal coordincation during memory consolidation

After learning, labile memories are initially consolidated into permanent representations. This process involves the interplay between the hippocampus, where memory traces are originally formed, and the prefrontal cortex, where they are stored long term. The synchronisation of both structures during sleep has been causally related to memory consolidation. But how is the activity of neuronal populations across distant structures coordinated?

To answer this question I will train rats in a spatial memory task and record the neuronal activity in the hippocampus and cortex during sleep before and after learning. This approach will reveal which neuronal populations are implicated in the sleep reactivation of learning-related activity. Diverse anatomical pathways can mediate the transfer of information from the hippocampus to the cortex but the impossibility of recording all of them simultaneously has prevented the elucidation of these mechanisms. I will perform functional magnetic resonance imaging in sleeping rats to assess brain-wide activation at times of hippocampal-prefrontal synchrony during memory consolidation after learning. I will also causally verify the synaptic mechanisms pointed out in the previous stages by silencing those specific neuronal populations at times of inter-areal synchronisation and checking the effect of these manipulations on memory consolidation.

Dr Max Hantke

University of Oxford

Transient complex formation in nanodroplets

Cells communicate information about their state and regulate their biochemical reactions via a network of often short-lived interactions between different proteins. Errors in these networks can cause cancer and growth defects. Our understanding of loose and short-lived interactions remains poor as they are too difficult to study.

I plan to establish new technology based on trapping interacting proteins in extremely small droplets that stabilise the elusive complexes. I can then examine the complex composition and structure using a combination of mass spectrometry, electron microscopy or X-ray lasers. I will study a part of the machinery by which plants take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the complex that is involved in repairing damaged DNA in human cells. If this complex does not function properly the DNA damage can lead to developmental problems and early death.

The findings will give detailed information about the architecture of the complexes and will aid the design of targeted medicines to treat disease.

Dr Adam Hargreaves

University of Oxford

Utilising snake endogenous toxin inhibitors for the development of improved antivenom treatments

Bites by venomous snakes result in over 90,000 deaths annually, predominantly in regions affected by poverty. The only effective treatment is antivenom, which currently has several drawbacks: production is expensive, it is not always effective, and it can sometimes cause life-threatening immune responses. A key cause of these issues is that current manufacturing methods rely on injecting extracted venom into large animals, usually horses, and extracting and purifying the antibodies the horse produces to combat the toxic effects. However, snakes are completely resistant to their venom as they produce inhibitors to protect themselves.

This project aims to explore the use of snake inhibitors as antivenom components and to make steps towards developing a new method of production. This will involve identifying the toxins expressed in venom and the inhibitors expressed in body tissues. Once identified, candidate inhibitor proteins will be produced using human cell lines, requiring no live animals and possibly reducing the risk of immune reactions in patients. Experiments will then be carried out to test the effectiveness of these proteins in neutralising key effects of venoms which cause death.

This could revolutionise how antivenoms are produced by providing a method to make targeted, more cost-effective treatments.

Dr Jana Hutter

King's College London

Non-invasive assessment of human placental function by quantitative MRI

It is widely hypothesised that failure to achieve required flow conditions in the developing human placenta is a key precipitating causal factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly fetal growth restriction (FGR). Incomplete remodelling of the maternal spiral arteries in early pregnancy, resulting from insufficient trophoblast invasion, causes abnormal velocity and jet-streaming in the inter-villous spaces. This leads to damaged elongated, less capillarized villous trees, and subsequently decreased fetal oxygen delivery. There is substantial evidence to support this hypothesis; ex-vivo from histology of delivered placentas and in-vivo from ultrasound, which can measure both upstream and downstream flow, but has limited sensitivity to directly assess the IVS rheology and villus tree damage. 

The aim of the project is to create advanced functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) methods specifically tailored to detect structural and functional placenta damage early in pregnancy. The methods will be designed using established, biologically-driven models of the cascade of consequences that follow incomplete spiral artery remodelling. Bespoke echo-planar imaging methods, that minimise acoustic noise and acquisition acceleration techniques, will be integrated to achieve a clinically feasible exam that will be tested in a prospective study of pregnancies at high risk of FGR in the early second trimester, before onset of clinical symptoms.

Dr James Kolasinski

Cardiff University

Putting somatosensation in context: exploring the cortical encoding of active touch

Humans use touch as an active sense. Most of the touch sensation we feel is driven by our own movement, for example, running our fingertips along a surface to feel its texture. The regions of the brain responsible for controlling movement and touch are intimately linked. Mouse studies show that if specific movements and touch sensations are strongly associated, for example gripping a familiar object, the movement region of the brain can promote activity in the touch regions, even before we feel any information from touch. This is referred to as ’top-down’ control.

I will investigate, whether top-down control exists in regions of the human  brain that control touch and what this particular signalling does. These studies will use MRI scanners and recordings of electrical activity in the brain using pads connected to the scalp with a water-based gel. This work will culminate in a study that projects touch information onto fingertips using ultrasound technology, aiming to enhance dexterity by experimentally changing associations between movement and touch.

The aim of understanding this top-down brain mechanism is to design interventions to rehabilitate impaired dexterity, commonly seen in older people and people who have had a stroke.

Dr Georgia Lockwood-Estrin

Birkbeck, University of London

Establishing objective measures for identifying children with autism spectrum disorders using eye-tracking technology in the UK and India

There are many people around the world who are affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD), sometimes resulting in a high degree of disability. People with ASD have difficulties in social communication and interaction and it is often associated with repetitive behaviours. In low-income countries, such as in India, health system challenges have meant that a large number of children with ASD go without any treatment or care. This is in part due to them receiving a diagnosis late in their development, or not at all. Current diagnosis of ASD is a complex process, and so clearly defined objective markers for ASD symptoms would provide much needed improvements in identifying people with ASD. One well-known trait of ASD is unusual eye contact that can be objectively measured with eye-tracking technology. This has the potential to identify children with ASD.

The goal of this project is to establish the use of this eye-tracking technology to improve ASD detection in high and low-income countries, specifically in the UK and India. Improving detection of ASD in these countries would mean that a greater number of children would benefit from early interventions.

Dr Catherine Manning

University of Oxford

A dynamic approach to sensory processing in autism

Autism affects social functioning and encompasses sensory symptoms such as aversion to sounds or fluorescent lights. It is not known why sensory symptoms occur. Previous research has overlooked the dynamic process leading to sensory responses, so we do not know the point at which differences arise. For example, whether a heightened sensory response in autism is due to taking in sensory information too quickly or if it is an aversive response triggered at a lower level of sensory stimulation.

I will investigate the nature and source of sensory symptoms in autism by studying which stages of sensory processing are different, how differences relate to brain activity and how sensory processing affects movements in people with autism. I will also investigate how processing differences relate to sensory symptoms and whether additional difficulties, such as motor problems or attention difficulties, affect sensory processing in people with autism.

I will measure electrical activity at the scalp while children with and without autism respond to sensory information. I will combine behavioural and brain activity measures using mathematical models. Parents will complete questionnaires about their child‘s sensory processing and other difficulties.
The findings from this study will help to design future interventions and support for people with autism who experience sensory symptoms.

Dr Elli Marinopoulou

University of Manchester

Investigating molecular dynamics in quiescent stem cells

The brain is the most complex of our organs consisting of billions of brain cells that need to send messages to our body to tell it what to do. In neurological diseases or brain injuries some of the brain cells are damaged and the communication is partially lost, leading to potentially serious defects. The brain has the ability to replace the damaged cells by generating more from healthy ones. However this ability is limited, because these healthy regenerative cells are rare, mainly inactive and only a few multiply to repair the damage.

I will study how these brain cells decide to either remain inactive or increase in numbers. An answer to this question will help us to direct the decisions of these cells to either silence them permanently or make them generate more when needed. Similar but harmful regenerative cells are found in brain tumours. Because they are inactive they escape standard cancer treatments and, for reasons unknown, they can start to multiply again and establish new tumours. I hope to apply my findings to permanently retain these cells in an inactive state.

These findings could help prevent cancer progression and relapse.

Dr Rohini Mathur

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Ethnic inequalities in trajectories of cardio-metabolic risk factor control and outcomes of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of vascular disease, with co-morbid hypertension and hyperlipidaemia increasing the risk further. UK studies have identified substantial ethnic differences in the risk of vascular outcomes among people with type 2 diabetes. Whether these inequalities stem from differences in healthcare usage, quality of care, or differences in treatment efficacy remains unknown. 

The aim of this project is to identify modifiable determinants of ethnic inequalities in vascular outcomes of type 2 diabetes in order to generate an evidence base for clinical management of diabetes tailored to the UK population.

Dr Nicholas Myers

University of Oxford

Dynamic cortical networks for cognitive flexibility

Consider the flexibility required for a common task like taking a new route to work: at a crossroads where you usually turn left, you now go straight. How do we change our behaviour so easily? The prefrontal cortex is a key region for cognitive flexibility, but how it does this is unknown. I propose that the prefrontal cortex communicates with the rest of the brain using selective synchronisation. By setting up communication channels between relevant sets of neurons, synchronisation selects the appropriate pathway out of the myriad possible links between sensory input and action (much like railway switches ensure that a train arrives at its intended destination). An older view associates each brain area with a particular function, but this view is based on tightly orchestrated global brain networks.

I will combine brain recordings with machine learning techniques to understand how synchronisation in and between brain areas contributes to flexibility.

Synchronisation may be a fundamental principle of brain function, which makes this project relevant for basic neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry.

Dr Sara Pijuan-Galitó

University of Nottingham

Achieving controlled human pluripotent stem cell derivation and expansion using Inter-alpha-inhibitor with a novel polymer substrate

Clinical trials show that stem cell therapy can notably improve upon current treatment of a variety of health complications, such as macular degeneration or heart failure. However, a very high number of cells are needed per patient to achieve noticeable health improvements. Current stem cell production methods lack the capacity to produce the number of cells required for widespread medical applications in an economical, safe manner.

This project will combine the latest scientific discoveries to describe a new method for stem cell expansion that overcomes traditional liability  issues, such as unreliable raw materials and costly quality controls required before the stem cells can be used for cell therapy. I will first identify a culture scheme that can reduce inherent costs to become affordable, thoroughly establish the safety and appropriate stem cell behaviour in such a culture scheme, and then translate this method to large-scale expansion.

This study will pave the way to clinically safe human pluripotent stem cell lines and scalable culture conditions to make stem cell therapy a widespread, safe and reliable medical reality.

Dr Robert Power

University College London

The impact of virus genetics on transmissibility of HIV-1

HIV affects millions of people worldwide, particularly in developing countries. While treatment has improved life expectancy, preventing new infections has been less successful. The likelihood of infecting others is partly determined by a person’s viral load. This varies greatly among those who are infected, with a higher viral load leading to greater infectiousness. Recent studies have shown that viral load is in part controlled by HIV itself, with differences between viruses leading to differences in individuals’ viral load. This can be seen by the similarity in viral load in people infected with the same strain.

My aim is to identify specific genetic differences between HIV samples that lead to changes in viral load. I will do this using large genetic datasets from tens of thousands of samples. My background in statistical genetics will allow me to identify the genetic differences that influence viral load. I will then combine these findings with information on people’s genetics and environment to better understand what puts individuals at risk of infection.

The results of this study will be useful for both predicting an individual patient’s outcome and for developing new treatments.

Dr Daniel Puleston

University of Oxford

Functions of the polyamine synthesis pathway in T cell biology

T cells are important cells of the immune system and they are crucial when the body fights infection. In recent years we have begun to appreciate the importance of metabolism in the way T cells operate. T cells rely heavily on cell proliferation when fighting infection. They need to build up large numbers of cells to clear pathogens and they do this by rapidly dividing. Polyamines are small metabolites that might be important for cell division and the immune response because they support T-cell replication.

The aim of my work is to investigate the polyamine synthesis pathway in T cells. I will investigate this using mice that have been engineered so that their T cells can no longer make polyamines and compare them with mice with normal T cells.

This project will shed light on how cells can use metabolism for replication and function, which is important for our understanding of areas such as immunity and cancer. If we can control the polyamine pathway in T cells, we might be able to manipulate these cells to our advantage when treating infection and disease.

Dr Max Renner

University of Oxford

Understanding the interaction between dengue virus and mosquito C-type lectins on the molecular level

Dengue virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of mosquitoes and is the cause of dengue fever. The virus is an enormous burden on global human health and the economy with more than 390 million people infected each year. At the moment there are no therapeutics available and the success of vaccination efforts has been limited. It is important to note that dengue actively multiplies in not only humans but also mosquitoes. Replication of the virus inside the mosquito is an important prerequisite for it to be transmitted to humans. The most important mosquito species for the transmission of the virus is the yellow fever mosquito.

Using structural biology methods I aim to study molecules from the yellow fever mosquito which are important for the virus. The dengue virus uses these molecules to help it infect the mosquito. I will analyse how this occurs at the molecular level. I will carry out experiments with live mosquitoes to prove that my hypotheses are also true for the whole organism.

Understanding how the mosquito is infected may ultimately help us reduce the transmission of the dengue virus at this step of the cycle.

Dr Suzannah Rihn

University of Glasgow

Inhibition of HIV-1 by type II interferon

Humans have evolved a number of natural defenses that protect against invading viruses. Many of these defenses are regulated by interferons that are released after the body senses an infection. The interferons – proteins that interfere with viral replication – can stimulate expression of hundreds of specific genes that mediate the body’s antiviral defenses. Previous research has shown that a number of interferon-stimulated genes from the type 1 family of interferons can strongly inhibit HIV-1 infection. In a previous study I unexpectedly found that another family of interferon, type II interferon, can also inhibit HIV-1.

I want to define exactly how, when, and through which genes and mechanisms the inhibition of HIV-1 by type II interferon occurs. Uncovering how type II interferon inhibits HIV-1 will provide  an insight into how our antiviral defenses function.

Even though antiviral defenses normally fail to eliminate HIV-1 infection, discovering how they work will improve our understanding of HIV-1 disease progression and may eventually aid the development of novel drug therapies and vaccines.

Dr Heba Sailem

University of Oxford

Knowledge-driven analysis of image-based genetic screens using deep learning

An important question in molecular biology is what are the functions of different genes and how they determine the organism phenotype in health and disease. Genetic screens allow analysis of  gene functions by observing the phenotype of cells when genes are perturbed. Cells can be imaged using automated microscopy after the perturbation of thousands of genes. However, the analysis of the resulting imaging datasets toward inferring gene function remains challenging, labour intensive and highly sensitive to experimental settings.

I propose to develop methods that transform the analysis of high throughput imaging data from ad-hoc pipelines to a systematic and generalisable framework. I will build on the advances in computer vision to develop methods that can discover phenotypic effects of genetic perturbations with minimal human intervention. These methods will be coupled with a bioinformatics platform to automatically link phenotypes to gene functions. As the methods learn directly from raw images they can be applied to various bioimaging studies. Developing such standardised methods is crucial for enabling comprehensive analysis of imaging datasets towards systematic inference of gene functions at different system levels.

This research will advance our knowledge about gene functions and has the potential for identifying new candidate therapeutic target genes.

Dr Manuel Spitschan

University of Oxford

Human sensitivity to short-wavelength light in non-image-forming vision: toward a mechanistic understanding of the impact of blue light on sleep and circadian rhythms

Blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets and televisions affects our bodies by delaying our sleep timing and changing our moods. This is thought to be mediated by about 30,000 cells in our retinas containing the photopigment melanopsin which prefers light for shorter (blue) wavelengths. Very little is known about how these cells interact with the light-sensitive cone cells. Studies have suggested that there is a ‘tug of war’ between melanopsin cells and short-wavelength cones in controlling the size of the pupils, suggesting these two blue-sensitive systems might have different roles.

This research will look specifically at the role of these cells in unconscious, non-image-forming vision.

Dr Rhoda Stefanatos

Newcastle University

Using Drosophila to study and identify new therapies for mitochondrial disease

Mitochondrial diseases are a common group of metabolic disorders that affect tissues that require high levels of energy, such as the brain and muscle. Patients with mitochondrial disease can suffer from a range of debilitating symptoms that compromise quality and length of life. Critically, there are no curative treatments available for people with these diseases. We need to know more about what happens when mitochondrial function becomes compromised and how these events link to mitochondrial disease so that we can accelerate the development of new treatments. Evidence from previous studies suggests that defective mitochondrial function results in adaptations that may cause mitochondrial disease. Targeting these adaptations may be a route to finding effective therapies.

The common fruit fly has been used successfully to model a number of human diseases, including mitochondrial disorders. I will use the fly as a model to study the adaptations that occur when mitochondrial function is impaired in the whole fly and in tissues such as the brain and muscle. I will also explore whether reinstatement of normal mitochondrial function can reverse established mitochondrial disease. Finally, I will establish a screening method using fly models to identify therapies that could alleviate mitochondrial disease.

Dr Mathew Stracy

University of Oxford

The fate of multidrug tolerant bacteria: from single cells to microbial communities

Many bacterial infections cannot be cured, even when caused by a pathogen that is not resistant to antibiotics. Central to this effect is the presence of a small population of cells called persisters that enter a dormant state that protects them from a broad range of antibiotics. After the treatment finishes, surviving persisters can resume growth causing recurrent and chronic infections. Eradicating persisters is a crucial step towards treating chronic infections.Persister cells are rare, which makes them difficult to study, and many questions about them remain. Persistence can be triggered by a variety of different mechanisms, but it is unknown if these different mechanisms lead to the same cell state and the same tolerance to antibiotics.

I will use advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques combined with microfluidics to identify persister cells and determine if different persistence pathways lead to different cell physiology and antibiotic tolerance. I will study how these cells revive from their dormant state and at what point they become susceptible again.

Dr Gillian Stresman

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Moving from estimating broad transmission patterns to quantifying the total number of malaria infections: filling a critical gap in planning for malaria elimination

Knowing how many malaria infections there are in a community is important in deciding which approaches to control are best. Most of the decision making for malaria programmes relies on cases reported by health facilities. Even though this gives an idea of the risk of getting malaria, more than half of the people with an infection do not feel sick, so cases are under-reported. Understanding how the number of malaria infections reported by health facilities relates to the number of infections in the community will help determine how many infections there really are. It is possible that people with a good immune response to malaria will be protected from getting sick and would not go to the clinic if they have an infection. But, when malaria levels go down because of control, immunity to malaria will likely change.

I will study the population in The Gambia to see if the immune response to malaria is affected by changes in transmission and if this affects the probability that they will be detected by routine malaria surveillance. I will also make maps to predict how many infections there are to help malaria control programmes.

Mr Joshua Tan

University of Oxford

Dissecting the antibody response to Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes

Antibodies that target red blood cells (RBCs) infected by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum have been linked to protection against malaria, but these antibodies have not been well characterised, in part due to limitations of technology.

We have developed a technique that allows us to identify unusual antibodies containing parts of a protein called LAIR1 that target Plasmodium falciparum-infected RBCs. We will use this technology to study the antibodies that target infected RBCs in people from Mali who have been exposed to malaria. We will compare the antibodies of naturally protected and non-protected people to identify potential signatures of protection. We will then isolate cross-reactive antibodies that target diverse P. falciparum parasites and identify their targets as malaria vaccine candidates, and find more LAIR1-containing antibodies. We have found preliminary evidence that suggests that antibodies from some Malian people target RBCs infected by different P. falciparum parasites and that a sizable proportion (5 to 10 per cent) of these people possess antibodies that contain LAIR1.

This work will help to identify antibodies that protect people who are exposed to malaria, potentially including cross-reactive antibodies, against invariant  P. falciparum proteins. This may identify potential candidates for a malaria vaccine.

Dr Richard Timms

University of Cambridge

Functional characterisation of the human virome through expression screens in human cells

Viruses cannot grow outside a host cell and they hijack components from their host to carry out basic biological functions. Viruses are masters at manipulating and subverting the cellular pathways of their host to promote their survival and growth in the face of attack from the host’s immune system. This ability is especially remarkable considering that most viruses contain only enough genetic material to encode a handful of genes. Understanding how viral genes function can explain how harmful viruses can evade our immune systems to cause disease and help identify the most critical cellular components that detect viral infection.

The goal of my project is to develop a a single experiment that can identify all the viral genes that sabotage a particular process within the cell. I will focus on one key mechanism that cells use to detect infection: the sensing of genetic material derived from invading viruses. I aim to learn more about how viruses evade detection by the immune system by identifying additional viral genes that are able to suppress these critical sensing systems.

Ultimately, this work could highlight new avenues for antiviral drug design.

Dr Calum Wilson

University of Strathclyde

Optical dissection of endothelial calcium signalling

The endothelium is a layer of cells that lines all blood vessels in the body. Endothelial cells have a number of important functions including acting as a barrier between the blood and body tissue, controlling transport of nutrients into tissue and controlling blood clotting. The endothelium also controls the size of blood vessels, the formation of new blood vessels, and how the body responds to infection. The endothelium is able to control all of these functions because endothelial cells work together. The focus of this work is to understand how endothelial cells are able to communicate with each other and coordinate their activities.

The importance of the endothelium was detected when blood vessels reacted to acetylcholine  only when the inner layer was intact. This chemical is not normally found in the blood and so no one knows why it is able to act on the endothelium. It has been discovered that endothelial cells make and release acetylcholine. This work will explore how endothelial acetylcholine allows endothelial cells to ‘talk’ to each other and coordinate every aspect of blood vessel function.

Dr Marwa El Zein

University College London

An adaptive role of collective decisions: shared responsibility in the human brain

People often prefer to make decisions in a group, although many of these decisions do not lead to better choices when compared with decisions made as an individual.

I propose that the function of joint decisions is not to improve the outcomes of decisions. Instead, people cooperate to share the responsibility for their actions with others, thereby protecting themselves from any possible punishment. This implies that a person should feel less responsible for collective actions and choose to cooperate  when there is the possibility of punishment. It follows that individuals would be more severely punished as compared to a group. By experimentally testing these predictions at the behavioral and brain levels in human participants, this work will clarify the usefulness of cooperative behaviour.

The findings of this project have important implications for issues related to norm-enforcement in society and judicial impartiality.

Dr Jan Zylicz

University of Cambridge

Role of epigenetic mechanisms in random X chromosome inactivation ex vivo and in vivo

Developmental progression is linked to the accumulation of epigenetic information, mainly in the form of chemical modifications of chromatin. One of the most striking examples of this is random X chromosome inactivation (XCI) in female mammalian embryos. This process is dependent on the coating of one X chromosome by a long non-coding RNA, Xist. This in turn promotes rapid and dramatic remodelling of the chromatin. 

The functional relevance and exact spatio-temporal dynamics of this process remains elusive. I plan to address these questions using an integrated approach. This will include culturing mouse embryos outside the uterus and generating a functional epigenetic roadmap for XCI. 

This work could have wide-ranging implications beyond the field of XCI and be extrapolated into other epigenetic regulatory mechanisms.


Dr Kinga Bercsenyi

King's College London

To live or die: early fate decision of cortical interneurons

Forty per cent of interneurons are eliminated after birth and the benefit to overproducing these cells to then select them for apoptosis is not known. Kinga would like to understand how interneurons are selected to die and what happens if this process goes wrong. In Professor Oscar Marin's lab, King's College London, Kinga will investigate the molecular basis of interneuron cell death and how it can be modulated to increase or decrease the number of surviving cells. She will then move to Professor Dimitri Kullmann's lab at UCL to study the impact of incorrect cortical interneuron number on the electrophysiological properties of the neocortex, and will also assess the behavioural properties of animals with an abnormal number of interneurons in Professor Steve Dunnett’s and Dr Simon Brooks's labs at Cardiff University.

Dr Josephine Bryant

University of Cambridge

Using genomics to understand the role of cystic fibrosis pathogens in pulmonary exacerbations

Josie's research will focus on using whole-genome sequencing approaches to understand the evolution of pathogens in the cystic fibrosis lung. In particular she aims to better understand the role they play in causing extreme clinical events termed acute pulmonary exacerbations. She will be working in Professor Andres Floto's group at the University of Cambridge. In addition Josie will be working in close collaboration with Professor John LiPuma at the University of Michigan, Dr Martin Welch at the University of Cambridge, and Professors Nicholas Thomson and Julian Parkhill at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Dr Claire Chewapreecha

University of Cambridge

Evolution of Burkholderia pseudomallei and its disease dynamics

Claire's research focuses on understanding the evolution of the pathogenic bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, a cause of melioidosis, which is an under-studied yet rapidly fatal tropical infectious disease. Claire will use bioinformatics to predict bacterial genetic factors that influence disease outcomes and severity, and validate these candidates in zebrafish infection models. She will work jointly between the laboratories of Professors Sharon Peacock (University of Cambridge), Julian Parkhill and Gordon Dougan (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), and Nick Day (Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme in Thailand).

Stephen Cochrane

University of Oxford

Studying the mode of action of glycolipid flippases – a potentially new class of antibiotic target

Glycolipids are found in all cells and are vital for life. They are transported across cell membranes by enzymes known as flippases, but little is known about how these processes occur. Furthermore, as several glycolipid flippases are unique to bacteria, they could be new antibiotic targets. Stephen will use a multidisciplinary approach to study how these glycolipid flippases function, which in turn could allow the rational design of new antibiotics. He will start his fellowship with Professor Benjamin Davis at the University of Oxford, before continuing his work with Professor James Naismith at the University of St Andrews.

Dr Philip Coen

University College London

Multisensory integration in time and space

In natural environments the brain is typically bombarded with multisensory cues and Philip wants to understand how it processes this barrage of information. He will design two different audiovisual tasks for the mouse, examining both spatial (cues originating from the same location) and temporal (cues changing together over time) multisensory integration. Taking advantage of modern techniques in the mouse, he will record from and manipulate diverse brain regions while mice perform these tasks. Philip will work primarily with Professors Kenneth Harris and Matteo Carandini at the Cortical Processing Laboratory (UCL), and will collaborate with Professor Shihab Shamma (École Normale Supérieure, Paris).

Dr Alexis Cullen

King's College London

Biological markers of stress and inflammation across clinical stages of schizophrenia: from early at-risk states to chronic illness

Alexis will investigate the extent to which biological markers of stress and inflammation distinguish between the clinical stages of schizophrenia and predict illness progression. To achieve this, she will examine hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and gene expression of inflammatory markers in individuals at different stages of psychosis, ranging from adolescents at elevated risk for schizophrenia through to adults with chronic illness. During her fellowship, Alexis will work with Dr Valeria Mondelli, Professor Robin Murray and Professor Philip McGuire at King’s College London, and will additionally complete placements at the University of Birmingham, Emory University (USA), and McGill University (Canada).

Dr Andrew Davidson

University of Bristol

Investigating immune cell chemotaxis by using Chromophore Assisted Light Inactivation (CALI) to manipulate actin regulators in real time

Actin plays an important role in immune cell recruitment during inflammation, and Andrew wants to understand how such behaviour is derived from the competing activity of a diverse set of actin regulators. In the lab of Professor Will Wood at the University of Bristol, Andrew will study the macrophages of the Drosophila embryo, combining the power of Drosophila genetics with advanced imaging techniques. He will then move to the lab of Professor Mark Peifer, at UNC Chapel Hill, to compare and contrast the movement of individual macrophages with the collective migration of epithelial tissues.

Dr Erika Dona

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Developmental genetic basis and behavioural significance of sexually dimorphic circuits

Erika is interested in understanding how genes control the development of distinct patterns of connectivity in neural circuits and how these ultimately produce differences in animal behaviour. She will address this question in the context of a sexually dimorphic circuit responding to a male pheromone in Drosophila by combining live imaging, neuroanatomical analysis, transcriptional profiling, targeted genetic manipulations and behavioural experiments. To make this possible Erika will work with four groups: Dr Greg Jefferis at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Dr Darren Logan at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Dr Jean-Christophe Billeter at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences and Dr Oren Schuldiner at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Dr James Felce

University of Oxford

How chemokine signalling and antigen recognition are integrated by T cells

During his fellowship, James will investigate the role of G-protein-coupled receptors in the immunological synapse between antigen-presenting cells and T cells undergoing activation, with a particular focus on the behaviour of chemokine receptors. He will approach this using a range of imaging and microfluidic techniques to examine how the spatial organisation of these receptors is integrated into the highly compartmentalised platform of the immunological synapse. James will be based primarily in the laboratory of Professor Michael Dustin (University of Oxford), and will undertake additional work with Professor Savas Tay (ETH Zurich) and in collaboration with Professor Jason Cyster (University of California, San Francisco).

Dr Angelika Feldmann

University of Oxford

Determining how distinct vertebrate promoter classes coordinate cis-regulatory input

The appropriate use of gene-encoded information relies on an orchestrated crosstalk between gene promoters and distal regulatory elements in the genome. Angelika aims to discover the molecular and structural features that dictate how mammalian gene promoters coordinate communication with such elements. This will form the basis from which to understand how these systems are perturbed in human disease. During the course of her fellowship, Angelika will work with Professors Robert Klose and Jim Hughes (University of Oxford) and Professors Chris Ponting and Wendy Bickmore (University of Edinburgh) to combine molecular, computational and evolutionary approaches to understand these fundamental processes.

Dr Edouard Hannezo

University of Cambridge

Modelling spatial structure and stem cell fate during mouse epithelial morphogenesis and cancer initiation

Edouard is a theoretical physicist who will model stem cell fate during mouse embryo development and cancer initiation. During development, stem cell fate must be tightly regulated in order to ensure that the correct number of cells is generated in the correct sequence. This is dysregulated in tumours, although their cellular hierarchy is still largely unexplored. Edouard will combine mechanical models of organ shape with statistical models of stem cell fate to explore their complex spatiotemporal dynamics. He will work between the laboratories of Professor Ben Simons (Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge), Professor Jacco van Rheenen (Hubrecht Institute, Netherlands) and Professor Cedric Blanpain (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium). 

Dr Jeremy Herren

University of Glasgow

Endosymbiotic bacteria and vector competence: the effects of harbouring Spiroplasma on the biology of Anopheles mosquitoes

Jeremy's research is focused on insect-endosymbiotic bacteria in the genus Spiroplasma. Jeremy is studying how endosymbiotic Spiroplasmas affect the biology of mosquitoes, with the longer-term goal of using insect endosymbionts to block the transmission of vector-borne parasites (eg the malaria parasite). Jeremy has started his Fellowship at the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya, and will move to the lab of Professor Steven Sinkins at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Kathryn Hesketh

University College London

How to promote positive physical activity behaviour in parents and their preschool-aged children: using cohort data to inform interventions

Kathryn aims to establish what factors are associated with change in objectively measured physical activity in women and their preschool-aged children (0–5 years) to aid our understanding of how to better promote physical activity within families. Using longitudinal data from UK and US cohort studies, this work will provide novel information about physical activity during the transition to motherhood and during early life. Based at the UCL Institute of Child Health with Professor Catherine Law, Kathryn will also work with Professor Kelly Evenson (UNC Chapel Hill), Dr Esther van Sluijs (University of Cambridge) and Dr Sara Benjamin-Neelon (Johns Hopkins University).

Dr Rogier Kievit

Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

The rise and fall of executive functions: modelling the neural mechanisms of age-related changes in higher cognitive abilities

Rogier's fellowship will focus on how, and why, cognitive abilities such as reasoning and planning change across the lifespan. He will use statistical techniques to model how changes in the brain (such as the connectivity of white matter, or the structure of grey matter) during adolescence and old age affect these crucial cognitive abilities. He will be collaborating with Professor Ray Dolan at UCL (NSPN project), Professor Ian Goodyer at the University of Cambridge (NSPN project), Professor Rik Henson at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (Cam-CAN project) and Professor Ulman Lindenberger at the Max Planck institute for Human Development, Berlin (BASE-II project).

Dr Alessio Lanna

University of Oxford

Metabolic control of T-cell receptor signalling

Alessio is a biochemist who studies mechanisms of immune cell dysfunction. During this fellowship, he will be dissecting a hitherto unknown immune-inhibitory complex, identifying strategies to restore adaptive immunity during ageing and in tumour disease. 

Sponsored by Professor Michael L Dustin (University of Oxford) and mentored by Professor Mala Maini (UCL), Alessio will be also working with Professor Michael Karin (University of California, San Diego), Professor Erika Pearce (Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics) and Dr Enrico Lugli (Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Milan). The overall aim is to define the interplay between senescence and metabolic signals in controlling T-cell function.

Dr Yu Heng Lau

University of Cambridge

Exploring new antimicrobial pathways using a combinatorial biosynthetic approach

The aim of Yu Heng's research is to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance by discovering new natural product analogues that can engage previously unexploited antimicrobial targets. These analogues will be generated through combinatorial engineering of biosynthetic pathways, aided by ongoing advances in DNA assembly and sequencing techniques. Yu Heng will undertake the fellowship with Professor Pamela Silver at Harvard Medical School, working in collaboration with Professor Sarah O'Connor at the John Innes Centre, and Professor Peter Greenberg at the University of Washington.

Dr Catherine Ludden

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Defining reservoirs and transmission of antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli using a One Health approach

Catherine's research will take a One Health approach to investigate the origin and transmission of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli. This will involve the use of whole-genome sequencing to determine the genetic relatedness of isolates and associated mobile genetic elements from different sources to define shared reservoirs. Mathematical modelling will be used to infer transmission, test hypotheses and to determine the likely impact of interventions to reduce transmission of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli. During her Fellowship, Catherine will work with Professors Sharon Peacock (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Julian Parkhill (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), and James Wood (University of Cambridge).

Dr Daniel McNamee

University of Cambridge

The modularity of action control in the nervous system

Daniel will use a range of experimental paradigms such as sensorimotor control, psychophysics and sequential decision-making, in concert with the analysis of neural data obtained via functional magnetic resonance imaging and electrophysiology, in order to investigate the compositional structure of action at multiple levels of the control hierarchy. This research will be performed in collaboration with Professor Daniel Wolpert and Dr Máté Lengyel (University of Cambridge), Professor Samuel Gershman (Harvard University) and Professor Peter Dayan (UCL).

Teemu Miettinen

University College London

Crowded growth: how volume and intracellular density relate to cell growth and proliferation

Understanding how our cells regulate their growth and proliferation forms the basis for understanding development and several diseases. Teemu's research will investigate how cell growth and proliferation are dependent on cell volume, cell mass and the density inside the cells. As model systems for his research, Teemu will use human cell lines and primary cells in which cell size and intracellular density can be measured using high-throughput microfluidic and microscopic techniques. The work will be carried out with Professor Alison Lloyd at UCL and Professor Scott Manalis at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr Sophie Morgani

University of Cambridge

Establishing an in vitro model for embryonic patterning using a novel micropatterning system

Sophie's interests centre on early lineage decisions. During her fellowship, Sophie aims to develop an in vitro model to study lineage specification and the spatial arrangement of different cell types that occurs during mammalian gastrulation. She will utilise quantitative live-imaging approaches to follow these events at a single-cell level in real time as well as genetic mutants to characterise the mechanisms controlling these processes. Sophie will be working in collaboration with Dr Jennifer Nichols at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute and Dr Anna-Katerina Hadjantonakis at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Dr Maria Niarchou

Cardiff University

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder inattention symptoms as antecedents of later psychotic outcomes in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and the contribution of genetic risk

Maria's research goal is to better understand the aetiological mechanisms underlying risk of schizophrenia in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. During this fellowship, Maria will investigate the role of early neurodevelopmental abnormalities and measures of genetic risk in the development of schizophrenia in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. The work will be carried out in collaboration with Professor Raquel Gur at the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Naomi Wray at the Queensland Brain Institute of the University of Queensland, and Professor Anita Thapar at Cardiff University.

Dr Ritwik Niyogi

University of Oxford

Specific neural circuits and neuromodulation underlying real-time cost-benefit decision making

Ritwik will investigate the neural circuits and neurochemicals underlying decisions about when and how fast to take actions. Such decisions occur in real time and incur time-sensitive costs and benefits. Ritwik will seek to understand the precise cost-benefit computations the neuromodulators dopamine and serotonin perform, and how these control behaviour. He will use a novel approach, employing a powerful combination of temporally precise and spatially specific experimental techniques – electrophysiology, optogenetics (with Dr Jeremiah Cohen, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (with Dr Mark Walton, University of Oxford) – guided by sophisticated real-time theoretical modelling (with Professor Nathaniel Daw, New York University).

Dr Catherine Perrodin

University College London

Neural substrates underlying auditory social cognition

The goal of Catherine's research is to understand how the brain enables us to successfully communicate with each other. A crucial aspect of this ability is how the listener’s brain extracts and represents relevant social information from the communicated message. During this fellowship, she will investigate where and how auditory communication signals are encoded in the brains of mice during natural social interactions. She will use a novel and powerful approach combining ethologically-relevant communicative behaviour (in collaboration with Professor Erich Jarvis, Duke University) with large-scale neuronal ensemble recordings and molecular-genetic manipulations (with Dr Daniel Bendor, UCL).

Dr Charlotte Scott

University of Glasgow

Hungry for knowledge: elucidating the role of liver Kupffer cells in instructing the immune response against fed and intestinally derived antigens

Charlotte's research will focus on understanding the role played by liver-resident macrophages, Kupffer cells (KCs), in the regulation of systemic immune responses to antigens derived from the intestine. During her fellowship, she will work at Ghent University, Belgium, in collaboration with Dr Martin Guilliams and Professor Bart Lambrecht before moving to the University of Glasgow and collaborating with Dr Simon Milling. During her Fellowship, Charlotte hopes to further understand the outcomes of intestinally derived antigen recognition by KCs and the mechanisms behind these events.

Dr Olivia Shipton

University College London

Remembering an environment: does sensory gating contribute to context representation in the retrosplenial cortex?

Dr Keith Siew

University College London

Salt, diet and hypertension: an integrative in vivo physiological investigation of WNK pathway-controlled renal electrolyte and blood pressure homeostasis

The WNK pathway presents exciting new targets for treating high blood pressure (hypertension), which contributes to ~13 per cent of global deaths. Keith's fellowship focuses on understanding how WNK links together dietary sodium and potassium intake with the kidney’s role in balancing these salts and blood pressure control. He will develop a novel approach combining micropuncture studies of kidney tubule ion transport and intravital imaging of fluorescent biosensors to measure intracellular ions (with Professor Robert Unwin, UCL) with tubule morphology and protein expression/localisation from 3D reconstructed images of CLARITY-treated tissues and helium ion microscopy ultrastructure (with Professor Dennis Brown, Harvard University).

Dr Mirre Simons

University of Sheffield

Are longer healthy lives a flip of a switch away? A forward genetic screen of the dietary restriction response

Dietary restriction is one of the most reliable ways, across species, to extend healthy lifespan. The physiological mechanisms of dietary restriction have remained highly elusive, however, precluding any translation of these promising findings to our own species. Mirre will use genetics together with demography of mortality in Drosophila to explore the physiological mechanisms involved. He will work in collaboration with Dr Rhonda Snook and Professor David Strutt (University of Sheffield) and Professor Marc Tatar (Brown University).

Dr Sarah-Jo Sinnott

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The Resistant Hypertension and treatment Strategies Evaluation Study (RHiSE)

Sarah-Jo is a pharmacoepidemiologist, interested in using observational data to provide evidence for health at the population level. During her fellowship she'll use the Clinical Practice Research Datalink to research pharmacological treatment options used in resistant hypertension. This is a form of high blood pressure that remains high, even after treating with four types of blood pressure lowering medicines. Sarah-Jo will work with Dr Ian Douglas and Professor Liam Smeeth at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Professor Josh Gagne at the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Dr Peter Smittenaar

University of Oxford

Interacting computations: prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia in decision making

Peter is a cognitive neuroscientist studying the neurobiology of decision making. The goal of his fellowship is to understand how computations necessary for adaptive behaviour are embedded in networks across the brain. In collaboration with Professor Timothy Behrens at the University of Oxford, he will use functional and diffusion imaging to understand information integration between cortex and basal ganglia during action selection and learning. Peter will then spend time with Professor Michael Frank at Brown University to embed these insights into existing neural network models, and test predictions from these models through pharmacological manipulation.

Dr Martin Taylor

University of Dundee

Molecular mechanisms responding to DNA damage and replication stress at the replication fork

During organism development, cells undergo cycles of division to form new cells. This involves copying the cell's DNA, to ensure new cells contain a complete copy of the genetic material. Martin is interested in understanding how this copying process occurs when the DNA is damaged and what mechanisms cells use to prevent mutations arising. Martin will work with Dr Joe Yeeles (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology) to study these processes using newly developed yeast biochemical systems. He will then test whether similar mechanisms exist in human cells, using state-of-the-art gene editing and single-molecule analysis of the DNA copying machinery with Professor John Rouse (University of Dundee).

Dr Ben Wilson

Newcastle University

Cognitive functions underlying sequence processing in the macaque and human brain

Ben's research focuses on understanding the neurobiological systems that support language and the evolution of these brain networks, with the goal of developing animal models in which language-related processes might be better understood. He will combine sequence processing tasks and comparative neuroimaging techniques to investigate the extent to which the cognitive abilities that underpin language in humans might be shared by non-human primates, and how far these abilities are supported by evolutionarily conserved networks of brain areas. Ben will collaborate with Professors Tim Griffiths and Chris Petkov (Newcastle University) and Professor Angela Friederici (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig).

Dr Katherine Wright

Imperial College London

Dissecting the function of Plasmodium falciparum Rh proteins in red blood cell invasion by the malaria parasite

During her Fellowship, Katherine will investigate how malaria parasites invade human red blood cells to cause disease, focusing particularly on the role of the Rh parasite protein family in this process. She will use a combination of genetics, high-resolution imaging, and structural biology approaches, in collaboration with Dr Jake Baum at Imperial College London, Dr Matthew Higgins at the University of Oxford, and Professor Katharina Gaus at the University of New South Wales.

Dr Briony Yorke

University of Bath

Hadamard time-resolved crystallography: investigating fast structural dynamics using synchrotron radiation

Briony's research focuses on developing new methods to investigate the molecular dynamics that are essential to biological processes. During her fellowship she will use a novel method for time-resolved crystallography to investigate the mechanism of UV damage in γD-crystallin, a process that eventually leads to the formation of cataracts. She will work with Professor Paul Raithby (University of Bath) to implement the new method at Diamond Light Source. Briony will collaborate with Professor Elspeth Garman (University of Oxford) to model radiation damage processes and Professor Arwen Pearson (Universität Hamburg) to investigate structural changes in γD-crystallin.

Dr Friedemann Zenke

University of Oxford

Role of complex synaptic dynamics for learning and memory

How do neural circuits encode memories and compute? Friedemann is a computational neuroscientist fascinated by this question. During his fellowship he will investigate how complex non-linear synaptic dynamics reshape networks of spiking neurons into functional circuits capable of computation. The long-term aim is to uncover general principles of neural plasticity from the interplay of synaptic dynamics, network dynamics and neuromodulation. He will initially work with Professor Surya Ganguli at Stanford University and then move to work with Professor Scott Waddell and Dr Tim Vogels at the University of Oxford. Moreover, Friedemann will collaborate with several experimental groups to validate his theoretical findings.


Dr Amanda Barber

University of East Anglia

Enhancing optic nerve regeneration in injury and disease

Amanda's research focuses on investigating methods to promote retinal ganglion cell axon regeneration in disease and injury models of optic nerve conditions. Her long-term interests are to break down the components that govern long-range axon regeneration with the ultimate aim of developing new therapies for optic neuropathies. Amanda has started her Fellowship in the lab of Professor Keith Martin at the University of Cambridge and will move to Harvard University to work in collaboration with Professor Larry Benowitz.

Dr Rachael Bashford-Rogers

University of Cambridge

Adaptive immune-system structure and dynamics in health and autoimmune disease

Rachael's research focuses on understanding the immunological changes associated with autoimmune disease course. She will be working jointly between the laboratories of Professor Ken Smith (University of Cambridge) and Professor William Robinson (Stanford University). Rachael will use a combination of next-generation sequencing, experimental techniques and computational analyses to develop systems for probing autoantigen-specific B-cell population dynamics, and will use this knowledge to provide insights into autoimmune disease development.

Dr Amelie Baud

EMBL Hinxton

Leveraging genetic variation in the social partners to investigate effects of the social environment on behaviour

During her Fellowship, Amelie will investigate the influence of the social environment on behaviour using laboratory rodents as models. To tackle this challenging problem, she will use a genetic approach whereby the genes of an animal are used to predict its influence on another animal with which it interacts. Amelie's project is interdisciplinary: in Dr Oliver Stegle's group at the European Bioinformatics Institute, Cambridge, she will analyse existing large-scale datasets with many phenotypes and genome-wide genotypes from outbred rodents; in the lab of Professor Robert W. Williams at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, she will carry out a designed mouse experiment.

Dr Susanna Bidgood

University College London

Systematic identification and characterisation of poxvirus lateral body constituents using quantitative proteomics and advanced superresolution microscopy

Susanna is researching how poxviruses manipulate host cells in order to facilitate their own replication and survival. She will combine advanced mass spectrometry and superresolution microscopy to characterise poxvirus lateral bodies, two protein-rich viral structures delivered into cells upon infection. Using her expertise in host-pathogen interactions, she seeks to investigate the functional consequences of lateral body protein delivery on cell-intrinsic and innate immune responses. Susanna will be working with Dr Jason Mercer and Dr Ricardo Henriques (UCL), and Professor Bernd Wollscheid (ETH Zurich) – experts in poxvirus biology, superresolution microscopy and quantitative mass spectrometry respectively.

Aditi Borkar

University of Cambridge

HIV-1 transactivation complex: structure, dynamics and druggability

Aditi will be taking up the long-standing challenge of determining the structure and dynamics of the HIV-1 transactivation complex (TAC) to explore its druggability. She will commence her Fellowship by undertaking biophysical analyses of TAC with Dr Matthias Geyer (Universität Bonn) and performing X-ray crystallography studies with Professor Thomas Steitz (Yale University) to understand the mechanism of transactivation. She will then simulate TAC dynamics with Professor Christopher Dobson (University of Cambridge) to identify putative drug targets therein. Aditi will also maintain close ties with her mentor, Professor Michele Vendruscolo at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Rodrigo Braga

Imperial College London

Local functional architecture and individual differences in cognitive and clinical states

During his Fellowship, Rodrigo will develop new tools for mapping functional brain networks within individual subjects, using fMRI. He will use these tools to investigate how differences in the local interactions of functional networks can predict cognitive performance and psychiatric conditions such as depression and schizophrenia. This research will be conducted in collaboration with Professor Randy Buckner and Dr Hesheng Liu at Harvard University and Dr Adam Hampshire at Imperial College London.

Dr Pedro da Costa

King's College London

Chemically functionalised aptamer-conjugated nanographene delivering microRNAs: on the road to brain cancer eradication?

Building on his biochemistry background, Pedro will use his Fellowship to develop functionalised graphene-based nanocarriers for delivery of therapeutic molecules to brain tumours. Nanocarrier synthesis and functionalisation will be carried out at the laboratory of Dr Khuloud Al-Jamal (King's College London). Pedro will later join Dr Matthew Levy (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York), where he will develop aptamers for the targeting of the nanocarriers, while studies with brain cancer stem-like cells and tumour xenografts will be performed at the laboratory of Dr Steven Pollard (MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Edinburgh).

Luke Davies

Cardiff University

Control of homeostasis and inflammation by the macrophage metabolome

Luke will use his Fellowship to define the metabolic programming of specific cell subsets and to determine the impact of this programming on the control of tissue homeostasis and the response to chronic diseases, such as cancer. To facilitate this, Luke will work with Dr Daniel McVicar, an expert in cellular interactions at the National Cancer Institute, NIH, and Professor Philip Taylor, a world leader in macrophage biology at Cardiff University.

Dr Laura Dearden

University of Cambridge

Early-life origins of obesity: developmental programming of hypothalamic development and function

Laura will investigate how developing in an environment of maternal obesity alters development of the hypothalamus in offspring, and how disrupted hypothalamic development underpins the changes in feeding behaviour that ultimately lead to offspring becoming obese. Laura will be primarily based at the Institute of Metabolic Science (IMS), University of Cambridge, in the lab of Professor Susan Ozanne. She will also work with Dr Clemence Blouet (IMS), using viral tracing techniques to precisely define hypothalamic connections, and with Dr Sebastien Bouret (University of California, Santa Cruz), using pioneering techniques to explore the role of metabolic hormones in early hypothalamic development. This multi-disciplinary project will define the metabolic parameters and hypothalamic targets that mediate the effects of maternal obesity on offspring obesity risk, with the aim of developing translatable intervention strategies.

Dr Rhys Grinter

University of Birmingham

Determination of the function of the ydd/pqqL operon in uropathogenic Escherichia coli and its role in iron acquisition and virulence

Rhys's research will focus on the structural and functional characterisation of a novel virulence-related iron-uptake system in uropathogenic E. coli. This system has been shown to be important for systemic infection of this pathogen, and evidence suggests it targets a eukaryotic iron containing protein as its substrate. Rhys will begin his work in the laboratory of Professor Trevor Lithgow at Monash University, Australia. He will also spend time in Professor Susan Buchanan's lab at the NIH, USA where he will use X-ray crystallography to characterise this system. In the final year of the award, Rhys will return to Professor Ian Henderson’s lab, University of Birmingham, to pursue the longer-term aim of translating this research into medical outcomes.

Dr Ewout Groen

University of Edinburgh

Understanding the role of altered-ubiquitin homeostasis in motor neurone diseases

Ewout will use his Fellowship to study the role of altered-ubiquitin homeostasis in motor neurone disease. He will combine a range of cellular and animal models to understand how changes in ubiquitin homeostasis lead to motor neurone degeneration, and whether this pathway can be targeted to treat motor neurone disease. Ewout will be working between the labs of Professor Tom Gillingwater at the University of Edinburgh and Professor Kevin Talbot at the University of Oxford.

Dr Clare Harding

University of Glasgow

Developing insights into Toxoplasma gondii pathogenesis through analysis of both parasite and host cell proteins required for the parasite's lifecycle

Clare is a parasitologist and is interested in how the host cell contributes to parasite replication using the model obligate intracellular pathogen Toxoplasma gondii. To investigate this, she will work at the University of Glasgow with Professor Markus Meissner and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Professor Jeroen Saeij.

Katie Harron

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Data linkage for evaluating maternal, household and social influences on childhood health-service use and outcomes in children born preterm

Katie is a statistician with an interest in using linkage of administrative data for health research. During her Fellowship she aims to establish how nationally representative, population-level administrative data can be used to identify and measure determinants of variation in service use and educational outcomes for children born preterm by linking information on maternal, household and social environments. Katie will work with Professor Jan Vandermeulen at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Professor Ruth Gilbert at UCL and the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research, London.

Dr Peter Hellyer

King's College London

Homeostatic plasticity and the maintenance of neural dynamics in a changing world: converging theoretical and experimental approaches

Peter is a cognitive neuroscientist with a background in computational modelling and neuroimaging analysis. His research goal is to understand the contribution of the rich spontaneous patterns activity of the brain to cognition. During his Fellowship, Peter will use a combination of computational modelling and multi-modal neuroimaging (EEG, MEG and fMRI) to explore feedback mechanisms which allow the brain to maintain rich spontaneous dynamics despite a constantly evolving environment. This work will be conducted in collaboration with Professor Federico Turkheimer at King’s College London and Dr Claudia Clopath at Imperial College London.

Dr Johannes Kohl

Medical Research Council

Neural circuits underlying parental behaviour

Johannes will use his Fellowship to study the neural circuit basis underlying parental behaviour. He will start this project in Professor Catherine Dulac's laboratory at Harvard University, where he will use viral tracing, optogenetics and electrophysiology to anatomically and functionally identify parenting circuits. Subsequently, he will join Dr Tiago Branco's group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, to investigate how social experience can alter these circuits.

Dr Armin Lak

University College London

Decisions and dopamine in frontal cortical circuits

Armin will use his Fellowship to investigate the neurobiological bases of adaptive goal-directed behaviour. He will work with Professor Matteo Carandini and Professor Kenneth Harris at UCL, and Professor Adam Kepecs at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, while benefiting from the mentorship of Professor Wolfram Schultz at the University of Cambridge. By combining electrophysiological, imaging, optogenetic, and behavioural tools in awake behaving animals, Armin aims to uncover the fronto-basal ganglia-interactive roles in perception and decision making.

Dr Hannah Long

University of Oxford

Understanding the conformation and function of enhancer-promoter interactions that drive gene regulation during neural crest development

During her Fellowship, Hannah will investigate how distal regulatory regions, known as enhancers, modulate gene expression during the development of the neural crest, a transient embryonic cell type which gives rise to many diverse adult tissues, including the majority of the human face. Her long-term goal is to understand how non-coding genetic variation can contribute to human craniofacial disease and normal face variation. Hannah will work with Professor Doug Higgs at the University of Oxford, and Professor Joanna Wysocka and Dr Stanley Qi at Stanford University.

Dr Cerys Manning

University of Manchester

Investigating links between the temporal and spatial control of embryonic neurogenesis

Cerys is investigating the links between spatial and temporal control of neurogenesis in the developing embryonic hindbrain. She plans to use live imaging to analyse spatial patterns of oscillatory gene-expression dynamics in neurogenic fate determination factors. Her goal is to determine a mechanism for how neural progenitor cells make fate decisions at a defined point in space and time during development. Cerys will work together with Professor Nancy Papalopulu at the University of Manchester, Professor James Briscoe at NIMR, London, and Dr Alexander Aulehla at EMBL, Heidelberg.

Dr Joanna Martin

Cardiff University

A genetic study examining sex differences in the prevalence of ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders

During this Fellowship, Joanna will investigate a series of inter-related genetic hypotheses for the increased prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder, in males compared to females. Joanna will first be based at the Broad Institute, USA, collaborating with Dr Benjamin Neale and utilising the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium ADHD dataset. For the next phase of the project, Joanna will work at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, in collaboration with Professor Paul Lichtenstein, analysing data from the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden. Joanna’s project will also involve an ongoing collaboration with Professor Anita Thapar at Cardiff University.

Dr Laura McCaughey

University of Oxford

Understanding the cytotoxicity of pyocin L1 as a tool for antibiotic development

Laura's research focuses on investigating the mechanism of action of a lectin-like bacteriocin from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Her long-term interests are to characterise the bacteriocin-target interaction, with the ultimate aim of developing new antibiotics targeted against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other Gram-negative bacteria. Laura has started her Fellowship in the lab of Associate Professor Cynthia Whitchurch at the University of Technology, Sydney, and will move to the University of Oxford to work in collaboration with Professor Colin Kleanthous.

Dr Marga Pons-Salort

Imperial College London

Epidemic dynamics of pathogenic human enteroviruses

Marga's research aims to better understand the spread of infectious diseases. During her Fellowship, she will focus on identifying the determinants of the epidemic dynamics of human enterovirus diseases. This will involve the use of mathematical and statistical models to analyse epidemiological, microbiological, and viral sequence data collected as part of enterovirus surveillance in the UK and the US. Marga will work with Professor Nicholas Grassly at Imperial College London and Professor Bryan Grenfell at Princeton University. Collaborators on this project include Professor Miren Iturriza-Gomara at the University of Liverpool, and researchers at Public Health England and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr Sabine Reichert

University College London

The development of neuronal circuits controlling sleep/wake behaviour in zebrafish models of autism

Sabine is a developmental neuroscientist interested in the question of how neurodevelopmental diseases such as autism are associated with disrupted sleep. During this Fellowship she will use zebrafish larvae to investigate the role of autism-associated genes in the development and function of the hypothalamic circuits that control sleep and wakefulness. Sabine will use a combination of neuroanatomical analysis, functional neuroimaging and behavioural studies. She will be based in the labs of Dr Jason Rihel (Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, UCL) and Professor Florian Engert (Harvard Medical School, Harvard University) collaborating with Professor Antonio Giraldez (Genetics Department, Yale University).

Dr Francesca Short

University of Cambridge

Deciphering the second messenger regulatory network(s) in Pseudomonas aeruginosa that control persistent infection

Francesca is a microbiologist with a specific interest in the processes that govern chronic bacterial infections. She will use her Fellowship to explore how the nucleotide messenger cyclic-di-GMP controls development of persistent infections in the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, specifically focusing on the HD-GYP family proteins involved in the nucleotide’s turnover. To investigate this Francesca will work with Professor Julia Parkhill at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Professor Tim Tolker-Nielsen at the University of Copenhagen.

Dr Sundeep Teki

University of Oxford

It's about time: the role of temporal context in adaptive auditory coding

Sundeep is a sensory neuroscientist who has worked on how the human brain extracts sounds in noisy listening environments and how it encodes time intervals between rhythmic sequences of sounds. During his Fellowship, he aims to combine electrophysiological and behavioural approaches in animal models to uncover how single neurons and populations of neurons in the auditory cortex and higher-order frontal cortex encode the temporal structure of sounds. Sundeep will work with Professor Andrew King at the University of Oxford, and Professor Shihab Shamma and Professor Daniel Pressnitzer at École Normale Supérieure, Paris. Sundeep will also collaborate with his mentor, Professor Timothy Griffiths at UCL.

Dr Lucy Thorne

University College London

Defining pathogen sensing in human skin-derived dendritic cells

Lucy's research aims to define the virus-host interactions that are responsible for HIV evasion of innate immune responses in primary human skin- and vaginal mucosal-derived dendritic cells, with a view to understanding the molecular details of events that determine HIV transmission at mucosal surfaces. Lucy aims to characterise the host and viral factors that determine HIV permissibility, and the pathways that lead to activation of the innate immune response at the single-cell level. She will investigate ways to manipulate these interactions to enhance the innate immune response with the aim of better priming a specific adaptive response and suggesting approaches to prevent viral transmission. Her main sponsor for this Fellowship is Professor Greg Towers (UCL), and she will also be working with Professor Vincent Piguet (University of Cardiff) and Professor Teunis Geijtenbeek (University of Amsterdam).

Dr Alex Tuck

EMBL, Hinxton

The role of long non-coding RNAs in pluripotency and neuronal differentiation

Alex is investigating the mechanisms by which long non-coding RNAs contribute to early mammalian development, using the transition from embryonic stem cell to neural precursor cell as a paradigm. He will perform structural and mutational analyses in the laboratory of Professor Marc Bühler (Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel), single-cell RNA sequencing analyses in collaboration with Professor Sarah Teichmann (EBI-Sanger, Hinxton), and single-molecule imaging approaches in collaboration with Professor Daniel Zenklusen (Université de Montréal).

Dr Melissa Ward

University of Edinburgh

How do bacteria and their antibiotic resistance determinants evolve and spread in humans and livestock?

Melissa is analysing bacterial genome sequences alongside epidemiological data to understand how bacteria and their antibiotic resistance determinants evolve and spread in humans and livestock, with the aim of improving disease control. Her interdisciplinary Fellowship involves undertaking research at a number of institutions, including the University of Edinburgh (working with Professor Mark Woolhouse), the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi (with Professor Eric Fèvre), the University of Oxford (with Dr Daniel Wilson) and the Harvard School of Public Health (with Dr Bill Hanage).

Dr Oliver Zeldin

Diamond Light Source Ltd

Serial crystallographic studies of radiation sensitive macromolecules

Oliver is an interdisciplinary scientist whose work focuses on developing computational methods for structural biology. During his PhD, Oliver worked on a computational model of how long biological samples can last during experiments to determine their atomic structures using X-ray sources. More recently, his research focus has been on developing new tools for handling the heterogeneity inherent to serial crystallography using ultra-bright sources. Because only a single image can be obtained from each sample, atomic models have to be built up from hundreds to tens of thousands of samples. By using a combination of physical modelling and machine-learning techniques, Oliver aims to develop improved computation methods to model these sources of variance, leading to an increased radius of convergence for challenging samples and allowing new biological insights to be obtained.


Dr Tiago Antao

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Interrogating genomic and transcriptomic datasets to reveal the genetic basis of insecticide resistance in malaria vectors

During his Fellowship, Tiago is working with next-generation sequencing data on Anopheles gambiae, the main vector of malaria. This supports his long-term interests in understanding speciation within the Anopheles species complex and, most importantly, the genetic basis of resistance to insecticides – one of the main obstacles in the control of malaria.

Dr Rachael Bedford

King's College London

A cross-syndrome approach to atypical development: modelling developmental trajectories in children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and callous-unemotional traits

Rachael is a developmental psychologist with a strong interest in quantitative methodology. She will be based with Professor Andrew Pickles in the Biostatistics department at King's College London, with two additional eight-month collaborative visits to the University of Liverpool and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rachael's Fellowship project involves a cross-trait comparison of developmental trajectories, using advanced statistical methods to test the hypothesis that overlap in symptomatology between autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and callous-unemotional traits can arise from both common and distinct infant trajectories.

Dr Guillaume Blin

University of Edinburgh

A novel multidisciplinary approach to interrogate the impact of cell polarisation events on pluripotent cell fate decisions

Guillaume has started his Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr Sally Lowell, in collaboration with Professor Charles ffrench-Constant and Dr Val Wilson at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh. Guillaume's research goal is to understand how tissue-level asymmetries feed back onto cell fate decisions during early morphogenetic events in mammalian embryos and in cultured pluripotent cells. To this end, he is developing an ambitious approach, combining image analysis (in collaboration with Professor Badri Roysam, Cullen College of Engineering, Houston) and microfabrication techniques (working with Dr Manuel Thery, CEA, Grenoble).

Dr Boyan Bonev

The Francis Crick Institute

Epigenetic regulation of neuronal development through long non-coding RNAs

Boyan's Fellowship involves studying the role of long non-coding RNAs during mammalian cortical development. His research goal is to uncover novel functions for this type of RNA during the differentiation, migration and specification of cortical neurons.

Alexander Borodavka

University of Leeds

Dissecting molecular mechanisms of genome assortment and packaging in rotaviruses

Alex's research background is in investigating the molecular mechanisms of RNA virus assembly using state-of-the-art biophysical techniques. During his Fellowship he will continue research in this area using advanced single-molecule spectroscopy methods, which are ideally suited for revealing RNA-RNA interactions involved in rotavirus genome segment selection and packaging. He has established a collaboration between world-class experts in rotavirology Dr John T Patton (NIH, Bethesda) and Dr Ulrich Desselberger (University of Cambridge); Professor Andrew Lever (University of Cambridge), an expert in viral RNA structure and dynamics; and Professor Don C Lamb (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich), for expertise on single-molecule spectroscopy and advanced ultra-sensitive methods of imaging biomolecules. Alex will be sponsored by Professor Peter Stockley at the University of Leeds.

Dr Stephen Burgess

University of Cambridge

Causal inference in large datasets using genetic instrumental variables: extending Mendelian randomisation techniques

Stephen is a statistician, working in genetic epidemiology (particularly in Mendelian randomisation), with research interests in causal inference and observational studies. His research comprises methodological development and dissemination, and applied analysis, with a particular focus on cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Dr Ricardo Fernandes

University of Oxford

Deconstructing the molecular basis of cytokine signalling

During his Fellowship, Ricardo plans to probe the mechanistic basis for ligand discrimination by shared receptors using cytokine receptors as a surrogate model in collaboration with Professor K Christopher Garcia, University of Stanford.

Dr Elisa Galliano

King's College London

Impact of experience-driven dopaminergic plasticity on olfactory processing

Elisa will spend the coming four years investigating experience-driven plasticity in bulbar dopaminergic interneurons and the effects of such plastic modifications on the first synapse in olfaction and on olfactory behaviour. While being mostly based at King's College London working with Dr Matthew Grubb, she will also spend some time in the Cragg (University of Oxford), Murthy (Harvard University) and Lledo (Institut Pasteur, Paris) laboratories to tackle the different parts of her project. The mentorship of Professor Gordon Shepherd (Yale University) will help in interpreting and synthesising the data collected in the different laboratories.

Dr Claire Gillan

University of Cambridge

A neurocomputational investigation of Pavlovian-instrumental interactions in avoidance

Claire will use her Fellowship to study how fear learning interacts with the balance between automatic habits and purposeful goal-directed behaviours. She will join the laboratories of Dr Elizabeth Phelps and Professor Nathaniel Daw at New York University, where she will use computational analysis methods to delineate the brain and behavioural correlates of this interaction. Later, Claire will work with Professor Trevor Robbins at the University of Cambridge to apply this methodology to the study of a range of psychiatry groups. Claire hopes that these experiments will improve our understanding of the dimensional, rather than categorical, nature of psychiatry.

Dr Raphael Kaplan

University College London

A theoretical and experimental framework for relating endogenous brain fluctuations to human decision-making

Raphael's Fellowship will be conducted in the laboratories of Professor Karl Friston at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging and Professor Gustavo Deco at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Raphael will use both functional neuroimaging and computational modelling to investigate how prior brain states influence upcoming decisions.

Miriam Klein-Flugge

University of Oxford

Contribution of subcortico-frontal interactions to complex real-life decision-making

Miriam will use her Fellowship to study the brain mechanisms guiding the computation of complex decisions, with a particular focus on the role of the amygdala and its interactions with prefrontal regions. Miriam's work is conducted in Professor Matthew Rushworth’s laboratory at the University of Oxford, and in collaboration with Professor Hauke Heekeren at Freie Universität Berlin. Miriam is interested in working with healthy human populations as well as patients with abnormal decision making.

Dr Peter Koopmans

University of Oxford

Sub-millimetre structural connectivity imaging of cortical, subcortical and spinal pathways in humans

Peter is developing MRI methods in collaboration with Professor Peter Jezzard and Dr Karla Miller. Peter's goal is to measure white matter bundles with high resolution, such that they can be distinguished in close proximity to one another (eg in the spinal cord), or visualised at their interface with grey matter. He will subsequently use this to study structural connections in the brain and spine in health, chronic pain and motor neurone disease.

Dr Patrycja Kozik

The Francis Crick Institute

Mechanism and regulation of antigen translocation during cross-presentation

Patrycja will begin her Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Sebastian Amigorena at the Institut Curie in Paris, where she will work on antigen cross-presentation by dendritic cells. Patrycja's goal is to identify molecular machinery involved in the processing of exogenous antigens for presentation by MHC class I molecules, and to evaluate the role of innate receptors in regulating this process. The work will be carried out in collaboration with the laboratories of Professor Nir Hacohen at the Broad Institute, Boston, and Professor Caetano Reis e Sousa at the London Research Institute, CRUK.

Dr Julija Krupic

University College London

How exteroceptive and self-motion cues govern place cell activity and perceived location

Julija will begin her Fellowship in Professor John O'Keefe's lab at UCL, where she has developed a two-photon microscope integrated with a virtual environment to simultaneously image the activity of hundreds of hippocampal CA1 cells. She plans to investigate how place cell activity guides an animal’s behaviour and its perception of self-location. Julija will then move to the Salk Institute in California to work in collaboration with Professor Ed Callaway, where she will use monosynaptic pseudo-rabies virus-tracing techniques to unravel how connectivity affects the functional properties of place cells.

Dr Nicola Lynskey

Imperial College London

The contribution of master regulator RocA to group A Streptococcus pathogenesis

Nicola's Fellowship will focus on the role of the bacterial regulator RocA in the pathogenesis of Streptococcus pyogenes, in order to better understand the virulence mechanisms of this important human pathogen. To achieve this she will join laboratories at Harvard Medical School and Imperial College London, and will commence her research at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford.

Dr Robert Mahen

European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Systems microscopy analysis of centrosome maturation in living cells

Robert is focusing on understanding how subcellular assemblies form in vivo to mediate the process of cell division. He combines genome editing with quantitative imaging technologies, working jointly between the laboratories of Dr Jan Ellenberg at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Professor Paul French at Imperial College London.

Dr Raphaelle Metras

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Studying drivers of arboviral emergence: the case of Rift Valley fever in Mayotte

Raphaelle is a veterinary epidemiologist, with specific interests in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. During her Fellowship she will work towards further understanding the dynamics of Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus emergence by combining comprehensive datasets with modern dynamic modelling. She will work in collaboration with Professor John Edmunds's and Professor Matt Keeling's groups at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Warwick respectively, for the modelling aspects, and with Dr Eric Cardinale at CIRAD (Agricultural Research for Development, France) for the RVF expertise and data collection.

Dr Ben Newland

Cardiff University

A combinatorial approach for enhancing cell transplantation for neurological diseases via simple and scalable chemistries

Ben will use his Fellowship to further his interests in using polymer chemistry research to develop materials for future Parkinson's disease therapies.

Dr Rodrigo Osorno-Hernandez

Babraham Institute

The epigenetic regulation of robust pluripotency

Rodrigo will be working in collaboration with Professor Hans Schöler's laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Münster, and Professor Wolf Reik's laboratory at the Babraham Institute. During his Fellowship, Rodrigo will be investigating the epigenetic mechanisms regulating pluripotency.

Dr Joaquin Perez-Schindler

University of Birmingham

Determining the function of the transcriptional co-repressor RIP140 in skeletal muscle metabolic adaptation to exercise and insulin resistance

Joaquin is currently working in collaboration with Professor Janet Lord and Dr Andy Philp at the University of Birmingham and Dr Anastasia Kralli at the Scripps Research Institute, California, where he is studying the role of transcriptional co-repressors in the regulation of skeletal muscle metabolism and the development of metabolic diseases. The main aim of Joaquin's project is to uncover the molecular mechanisms by which exercise regulates co-repressor activity and to subsequently determine their role in the development and treatment of obesity and insulin resistance in humans.

Dr Tina Perica

European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Mechanisms of genotype-phenotype relationships through a combination of designed perturbations and quantitative genetic interaction mapping

Tina will use her Fellowship to study how genetic perturbations affect protein-protein interactions using functional genomics, biochemistry and bioinformatics. Her mentors are Professor Tanja Kortemme at the University of California, San Francisco, and Janet Thornton at the European Bioinformatics Institute, Cambridge. Tina will also collaborate, on the functional genomics side of the project, with Professor Nevan Krogan's group at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr Sarah Rollauer

University of Cambridge

Structural insights into the mechanisms of protein transport across biological membranes

Sarah is a structural biologist who is interested in the structure and function of membrane-embedded protein transport machines. Previously, she determined the novel structure of the core component of the bacterial twin-arginine protein transport system, TatC. Sarah is currently interested in applying a host of structural techniques, including X-ray crystallography and biochemical techniques, to understand the mechanistic details of protein transport machines in both bacterial and mitochondrial membranes. This work will be conducted in the laboratories of Dr Edmund Kunji (MRC, Cambridge), Dr Susan Buchanan (NIH, Bethesda) and Professor Trevor Lithgow (Monash University, Melbourne).

Dr Johanna Roostalu

The Francis Crick Institute

In vitro reconstitution of spindle bipolarity

During her Fellowship, Johanna will use the powerful combination of biochemistry and microscopy to elucidate the mechanics of chromosome segregation and spindle function. She will be based in the lab of Dr Thomas Surrey (London Research Institute, CRUK), collaborating with Professor Rebecca Heald and Professor Daniel Fletcher (University of California, Berkeley) and Dr François Nédélec (European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg) to use novel in vitro reconstitution approaches to define the basic rules of bipolar spindle assembly.

Dr Amanda Rossiter

University of Birmingham

Characterisation of anti-inflammatory virulence determinants; their role in Heliobacter pylori persistence and gastric cancer

Amanda will be working in collaboration between Associate Professor Richard Ferrero's laboratory at the Monash Institute for Medical Research, Melbourne, and Professor Ian Henderson's laboratory at the University of Birmingham. During her Fellowship, Amanda will investigate the mechanisms underpinning the ability of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori to infect and persist within the human stomach. She will aim to characterise novel bacterial proteins that have the capacity to manipulate host immune cells – an important bacterial strategy to aid their survival in the stomach and, ultimately, cause severe gastric disease.

Dr Colm Ryan

University College Dublin

The impact of genetic heterogeneity on synthetic lethality in cancer

Colm will use his Fellowship to study synthetic lethality in cancer. His primary focus is on understanding how synthetic lethal interactions are affected by genetic differences within and between individuals, with a view to improving the identification of robust synthetic lethal treatments. He will commence the Fellowship with Professor Alan Ashworth at the Institute of Cancer Research, working on large-scale RNAi screens. Later, Colm will work with Professor Walter Kolch at University College Dublin, where he will carry out computational analyses and mathematical modelling of synthetic lethality.

Dr Chris Schiering

The Francis Crick Institute

Delineating the role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor signalling in obesity

Chris will investigate the bidirectional crosstalk between diet, immunity and metabolism. In particular he will investigate the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, a molecular sensor of environmental changes, in obesity and its associated diseases. This work will be undertaken in the laboratories of Dr Gitta Stockinger (National Institute for Medical Research, London) and Professor Jerrold Olefsky (University of California, San Diego). Chris will also collaborate with Professor Andrew Macpherson (University of Bern, Switzerland) and Dr Trevor Lawley (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute).

Dr Owen Siggs

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The study of immune cell development by stem cell mutagenesis

Owen is studying the genetic architecture of the immune system, and will start his Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Allan Bradley at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. During the course of his Fellowship, Owen will develop new experimental systems to reveal genes and pathways required for immunity.

Dr Konstantina Skourti-Stathaki

University of Edinburgh

Mechanisms of R-loop formation in mammals: interplay with RNA polymerase II regulation and epigenetic modifications

Working between the labs of Professor Adrian Bird (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Ana Pombo (Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology), Konstantina plans to increase our understanding of the interconnection of R-loops and RNAi-mediated repressive chromatin marks. Her research aim is to study the interplay of R-loop formation with Pol II regulation and epigenetic modifications.

Dr James Sleigh

University of Oxford

Dissecting neuronal specificity in hereditary neuropathy

James will use his Fellowship to elucidate the disease mechanism underlying the peripheral nerve disorder Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2D (CMT2D). He will begin his Fellowship with Professor Giampietro Schiavo at UCL, where he will learn how to image axonal transport in live cultures and animals. James will then move to the laboratory of Professor Kevin Talbot at the University of Oxford, where he will develop induced pluripotent stem cell models of CMT2D to better understand the cause of neuronal susceptibility observed in the disease.

Dr Melda Tozluoglu

University College London

3D multiscale mechanical modelling of tissue growth

Melda is a computational biologist working on mechanical regulation of tissue growth and shape formation. She is developing a computational model for Drosophila wing disc folding. Melda's model will make it possible to investigate the roles of mechanics in the emergence and disruption of tissue architecture, independent of biochemical effects – a task the current tools are limited at. In the long term, Melda's research will relate to medical issues such as wound healing, tissue remodelling and control of overgrowth in cancer. Residing within experimental groups, Melda is utilising novel experimental data in model development, and her model is immediately available as a tool to improve our abilities in manipulating tissue growth and form.

Dr Stephan Uphoff

University of Oxford

Quantifying the molecular organisation of DNA repair pathways in live cells

Stephan is working with Professor David Sherratt at the University of Oxford, where he is building a custom microscope to study the molecular organisation of DNA repair pathways in bacterial cells. He will then combine experimental approaches with mathematical modelling in collaboration with Professor Johan Paulsson's lab at Harvard Medical School.

Dr Ines Violante

Imperial College London

Stimulating brain network oscillations to improve attention after traumatic brain injury

Ines is studying how attention can be improved after traumatic brain injury. Her research is focused on the modulation of brain oscillations through biofeedback and neurostimulation. She is interested in how brain oscillations mediate connectivity and particularly how neurostimulation could be used to improve communication in brain networks following brain injury. During her Fellowship she will be working between the labs of Professor David Sharp at Imperial College London and Professor John Rothwell at UCL.

Dr Richard Wheeler

University of Oxford

Generating parasite shape for pathogenicity

Richard is researching how the single-cell eukaryotic parasites which cause sleeping sickness (African trypanosomes) and leishmaniasis (Leishmania species) control and change their shape. He specialises in light and electron microscopy, combined with computational image analysis and mathematical modelling, and will use these techniques to determine how and why these cells change shape to adapt to the mammalian bloodstream, intracellular and insect gut environments they encounter through their life cycles. Richard will be working with Professor Anthony Hyman (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology, Dresden), Professor Keith Gull (University of Oxford) and Professor Markus Engstler (Universität Würzburg), who have particular expertise in microtubule dynamics, trypanosome cell biology and the swimming behaviours of parasites respectively.


Dr Céline Gillebert

University of Oxford

The temporal dynamics of visual selection: convergence from lesion symptom mapping and the intact functioning brain

Céline will investigate the temporal dynamics of visual attention in collaboration with Professor Glyn Humphreys (Cognitive Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Laboratory) and Professor Kia Nobre (Brain and Cognition Laboratory) at the University of Oxford. Céline's goal is to understand the timing of brain activity during tasks requiring visual attention (in the Nobre lab) and to advance the knowledge about changes in temporal dynamics following brain lesions (in the Humphreys lab).

Dr Laurence Hunt

University College London

Bridging microscopic and macroscopic measures of reward-guided decision-making

Laurence will be working in the laboratories of Professor Ray Dolan and Dr Steve Kennerley at UCL, where he will use both functional neuroimaging and electrophysiology to investigate the temporal dynamics of neural activity during goal-directed choice. His aim is to use computational modelling to understand how diverse types of data can be placed in a common descriptive framework.

Dr Luke Jostins

University of Oxford

Joint modelling phenotype and function in the fine-mapping and follow-up of disease associated loci

Luke will start his Fellowship in Professor Gil McVean's group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, where he will investigate statistical techniques for studying the shared genetic underpinnings in human diseases. He is particularly interested in building models of the relationship between different autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. His project is in collaboration with Dr Jeffrey Barrett at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, and Professor Mark Daly at Massachusetts General Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Dr Dennis Kaetzel

University College London

Optogenetic dissection and treatment of diseased neural circuitry in schizophrenia

Dr Katja Kornysheva

University College London

Neural representations of timing for skilled movements

Katja is studying the neural encoding of precise timing for skilled movements. Her research aims to connect the underlying neural mechanisms at the systems level in humans and on the single-cell level in mice. As part of her Fellowship, she will investigate how during training, brain regions and populations of Purkinje cells in the cerebellum reorganise functionally, to enable accurate timing of movements. Katja will undertake her work in collaboration with Joern Diedrichsen's laboratory at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Chris De Zeeuw's laboratory at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam.

Dr Vikram Narayan

University of Dundee

Delineating the ageing proteome: convergence of ageing pathways in Caenorhabditis elegans

Vikram will begin his research in Professor Cynthia Kenyon's laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, where he will attempt to characterise changes in global protein dynamics occurring during the process of ageing in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This work will be conducted in collaboration with Professor Angus Lamond and Dr Anton Gartner at the University of Dundee. Through his studies, he aims to identify ageing 'hub' proteins that can be manipulated to ensure healthy ageing by delaying the onset of age-associated illnesses such as cancer, neurodegenerative disease and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Silvia de Santis

Cardiff University

MIND – modelling and imaging using non-Gaussian diffusion

Silvia will begin her Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Yaniv Assaf in Tel Aviv University, investigating the link between advanced diffusion parameters and microstructural markers on very high field experimental MRI systems. Non-Gaussian diffusion imaging will then be optimised on a clinical scanner fitted with bespoke imaging hardware in the laboratory of Professor Stefan Sunaert in KU Leuven University and finally translated to a standard clinical scanner at Cardiff University, in the laboratory of Professor Derek K Jones. The last part of her Fellowship will involve pioneering acquisitions on selected brain pathologies in collaboration with the medical physics department of Tor Vergata University in Rome, under the supervision of Professor Nicola Toschi.

Dr Gulsen Surmeli

University of Edinburgh

An investigation of synaptic and molecular mechanisms for neural representation of space

Gulsen is interested in the molecular and cellular properties of neural circuits that underlie animal behaviour. She is using a variety of experimental techniques to combine information about the distinct molecular identities of neuronal populations, how they are anatomically arranged and connected and their functional roles in behaviour. She studied molecular biology and genetics at Bilkent University, Turkey followed by a PhD in biology from Columbia University, New York. Her PhD thesis under the supervision of Dr Thomas Jessell, revealed a previously unexpected mechanism of wiring the sensory-motor connections in the spinal cord. After a brief postdoc at Janelia Farm, Virginia, Gulsen is currently working with Dr Matthew Nolan at the University of Edinburgh focusing on the neural circuits underlying spatial perception.

Dr Christopher Tape

Institute of Cancer Research

Quantitative proteomic dissection of genetic aberrations in PDAC development

Christopher will start his Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr Claus Jorgensen at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, where he will be using cell-specific phosphoproteomics to investigate dynamic cell-cell communication between multiple cell types in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In collaboration with Professor Doug Lauffenburger at MIT, the dual-cell phosphoproteomic data will be used to develop a computational understanding of cell-cell signalling across sequential genetic stages of PDAC development.

Dr Thorold Theunissen

University of Cambridge

Molecular and functional investigation of distinct pluripotent states in humans

Thor has started his Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Rudolf Jaenisch (Whitehead Institute/MIT), investigating the developmental identity of human pluripotent stem cells. He will also spend time in the laboratories of Professor Richard Young (Whitehead Institute/MIT) and Professor Li-Huei Tsai (Picower Institute/MIT). This work will be undertaken in collaboration with Professor Brent Stockwell (Columbia University) and Professor Joseph Ecker (Salk Institute). Throughout his Fellowship, Thor will maintain close ties with his sponsor and his mentor at the University of Cambridge, Professor Azim Surani (Gurdon Institute) and Professor Wolf Reik (Babraham Institute), respectively.

Dr Aartjan te Velhuis

University of Oxford

Decoding the influenza A virus polymerase-promoter complex

Aartjan will study the replication of the influenza A virus using fluorescence-based single molecule techniques. He will undertake his work in the laboratories of Professor Ervin Fodor (Sir William Dunn School of Pathology) and Dr Achillefs Kapanidis (Department of Physics) at the University of Oxford.

Dr Rebecca Voorhees

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The mechanism of membrane insertion of tail-anchored proteins

Rebecca will begin her Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr Ramanujan Hegde at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Her work will focus on understanding how membrane proteins are trafficked in the cell and the mechanism by which they are inserted into the membrane. This work will be conducted in collaboration with Dr Robert Keenan at the University of Chicago.


Dr Philip Ahern

University of Oxford

Study of the host immune-metabolic-intestinal microbiota interface using a humanised model of obesity

Philip will begin his Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St Louis, investigating how the coordinated activity of the intestinal microbiota and host diet impact the immune system using gnotobiotic mice. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Kevin Maloy and Professor Fiona Powrie at the University of Oxford.

Dr Thomas Akam

University of Oxford

The neural basis of goal-directed behaviour

Thomas will investigate the neural control of behaviour by circuits in the frontal cortex and striatum. The project aims to use electrophysiology in novel behaviour paradigms to tease apart the contributions of model-based and model-free reinforcement learning mechanisms to evaluating possible actions. This work will be undertaken in the laboratories of Dr Rui Costa (Champalimaud Centre, Lisbon), Dr Mark Walton (University of Oxford) and Dr Geoff Schoenbaum (University of Maryland, Baltimore), in collaboration with Professor Peter Dayan (Gatsby Unit, UCL).

Dr Esther Arwert

The Francis Crick Institute

A leading role for macrophages in breast cancer metastasis

Esther is currently working with Professor John Condeelis and Professor Jeffrey Pollard at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, where her research focuses on understanding the role of different macrophage subtypes during breast cancer metastasis. Esther will also undertake periods of research at the London Research Institute with Dr Erik Sahai, concentrating on how cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts attract monocytes and stimulate them to develop into macrophages that help the tumour.

Dr Betty Ying-Wen Chung

University of Cambridge

High-resolution genome-wide analysis of small-RNA-mediated translational regulation

Betty is currently based in Professor David Baulcombe's laboratory at the University of Cambridge, where she is investigating small-RNA-silencing pathways in both plant and animal systems, in order to gain new insights into the fundamental mechanisms of small-RNA-mediated translational control. Betty will use high-throughput deep-sequencing methods, such as ribosomal profiling and HITS-CLIP, to obtain ultra-high-resolution genome-wide data in multiple organisms. During the Fellowship, Betty will also collaborate with Professor David Bartel in the Whitehead Institute (MIT). The information obtained will further our understanding of the evolution and function of RNA-based gene regulation.

Dr Elena Dreosti

University College London

Development of function in asymmetric brain circuits

Elena will combine the use of optogenetics imaging techniques, zebrafish and behavioural assays to investigate the formation of anatomical and functional brain asymmetries during development. This work will be undertaken in the laboratory of Professor Steve Wilson at UCL, Dr Michael Orger at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (Lisbon) and Dr Emre Yaksi at NERF (Leuven).

Dr Eris Duro

Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh

A proteomic and cell-biological approach to understand the molecular mechanism of meiotic chromosome segregation

Eris is currently investigating genome stability in meiotic chromosome segregation in Dr Adèle Marston's laboratory at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology. During the course of the Fellowship Eris will also undertake research in the laboratories of Professor Sue Biggins at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle) and Dr Juri Rappsilber, also at the Edinburgh Centre.

Dr Stephen Fleming

University of Oxford

Computational and biological foundations of metacognition

Stephen will begin his Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Nathaniel Daw at New York University. There he will combine Bayesian models of human behaviour with brain imaging, to understand how we are able to reflect upon our own mental states. He will carry out this work in collaboration with Professor Larry Maloney, also at NYU. Under the guidance of his sponsor, Dr Matthew Rushworth, Stephen plans to conduct research at the University of Oxford to causally test the computational models of metacognition he develops at NYU.

Dr Irene Gallego Romero

European Bioinformatic Institute, Cambridge

Comparative genomics of regulatory evolution

Irene will begin her Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Yoav Gilad at the University of Chicago, investigating differences in gene regulation during development in humans and two non-human species by using stem cells. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Louise Laurent at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, where her adviser, Dr John Marioni, is based.

Dr Michelle Leach

University of Aberdeen

How does the pathogen Candida albicans sense heat and activate the thermal adaptation mechanisms that promote infection?

Michelle will begin her Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Leah Cowen at the University of Toronto, investigating how the major fungal pathogen of humans, Candida albicans, senses thermal fluctuations, and the mechanisms by which thermal adaptation contributes to virulence. During the course of the Fellowship she will collaborate with Professor Joe Heitman at Duke University, seeking to determine whether another major fungal pathogen of humans, Cryptococcus neoformans, maintains conservation of these responses. Michelle will also continue her collaborations with Professor Alistair Brown in the Aberdeen Fungal Group at the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Meng Amy Li

Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research, University of Cambridge

Interrogating the roles of microRNAs in entering and exiting ground state pluripotency in embryonic stem cells

Amy will begin her Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr Lin He at the University of California, Berkeley, investigating the roles of microRNAs in embryonic stem cell pluripotency regulation. During the later phase of the Fellowship, Amy will move to Professor Austin Smith's laboratory at the University of Cambridge to continue her research. This work will also be undertaken in collaboration with Professor Allan Bradley at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Dr Kevin Maringer

University of Bristol

Evolutionarily conserved flavivirus immune evasion mechanisms

Kevin's research aims to understand how the vector-borne flaviviruses, which include important human pathogens such as dengue virus, evade innate immune responses in their human and invertebrate hosts. He is also comparing non-structural proteins, in particular the protease complex NS2B/3, from a range of flaviviruses, for their ability to disrupt cytokine production and signalling. Kevin is also investigating whether exposure to a group of flaviviruses that are restricted to mosquitoes (insect-specific flaviviruses), alters the immune response to dengue virus and dengue disease progression. Kevin began his Fellowship at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, working with Dr Ana Fernandez-Sesma, and will complete his Fellowship in his host laboratory, led by Dr Andrew Davidson (University of Bristol).

Dr Jonathan O’Muircheartaigh

King's College London

The development of resting state functional networks, their cognitive correlates in infants, and their involvement in learning disorders

Jonathan will begin his Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr Sean Deoni (Brown University, Rhode Island), investigating functional cortical networks in infants and their co-development with language indices. Later, he will return to the UK to apply this work to the investigation of developmental language disorders in collaboration with Professor Steve Williams (King’s College London), Professor Steve Smith (University of Oxford) and Professor Cathy Price (UCL).

Dr David Owald

University of Oxford

Making memories in the mushroom bodies

David will begin his Fellowship with Professor Gero Miesenböck and Professor Scott Waddell at the University of Oxford, investigating the changes at synapses that occur when memories are formed and retrieved. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with Professor Mala Murthy at Princeton University, and Professor Stefan Hell at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry.

Dr Laura Pearce

University of Cambridge

Investigation of the molecular basis by which mutations in SH2B1 lead to human obesity and insulin resistance

Laura is currently working with Dr Sadaf Farooqi at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, investigating the functional effects of novel genetic mutations that contribute to obesity. Laura will also spend time at the University of Michigan, working with Professor Martin Myers to establish how these mutations affect energy metabolism in vivo.

Dr Bridget Penman

University of Oxford

Epistasis and the genetics of disease resistance

Bridget is currently working at the University of Oxford, investigating the global distribution of malaria-protective haemoglobinopathies and the mechanisms underlying their protective effects. She is also interested in interactions between genes that encode key elements of the immune system, and the consequences of these interactions for human health and evolution. Her mentors at Oxford are Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor David Weatherall, and she will be conducting her laboratory studies there under the sponsorship of Dr Adrian Smith. Over the course of the Fellowship she will also be working with Dr Caroline Buckee at the Harvard School of Public Health, Professor Peter Parham at Stanford University and Dr Tom Williams at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya.

Dr Florian Stengel

Institute of Cancer Research

The assembly mechanism of higher-order protein assemblies

Florian is currently working in Ruedi Abersold's laboratory at the ETH Zurich, where he is developing mass-spectrometry tools to solve protein-complex architecture and dynamics. In particular, he is focusing on the development of new X-linking strategies for probing subunit topology and interaction in protein complexes, and aims to complement them with ion-mobility mass spectrometry. Combining information on subunit topology and interaction from X-linking with ion-mobility data should not only generate more complete interaction maps of investigated complexes but also greatly enhance the interpretation of EM densities and other high-resolution structures. Florian will also undertake periods of research in Carol Robinson’s laboratory at the University of Oxford.

Dr Alison Twelvetrees

London Research Institute, CRUK

The coordination of microtubule-dependent motors during axonal transport

Alison will investigate the intracellular trafficking machinery of neurons in the laboratories of Professor Erika Holzbaur (University of Pennsylvania) and Professor Giampietro Schiavo (London Research Institute). Alison's goal is to understand how the directionality of multi- motor arrays is controlled, as this is essential for determining how cargo motion is regulated in the context of distinct cellular functions. Specifically, she seeks to understand how direct interactions between oppositely oriented motors can reciprocally influence their activity, at both the single-molecule level (in the Holzbaur lab) and in vivo (in the Schiavo lab), and to discover how this regulates the delivery of axonal cargoes.


Dr Sophie Acton

University College London

Regulation of dendritic cell motility within stromal niches of lymph nodes

Sophie is currently working with Dr Shannon Turley at the Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, working on cell motility mechanisms during immune responses.

Dr Oliver Bannard

University of Oxford

The regulation of B cell responses during malaria infections

Oliver is currently based in the laboratory of Professor Jason Cyster at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where he is pursuing his interest in adaptive immune responses. Oliver is investigating aspects of how germinal centre B cell responses are regulated. Following mutation and selection, germinal centre B cells differentiate into memory B cells and long-lived antibody-secreting plasma cells that protect against future infections. Therefore, germinal centres are critical for the development of antibody-mediated immunity. Because humoral immunity is slow to develop during malaria infections, Oliver hopes to extend his research through a collaboration with Professor Joseph DeRisi, a parasite expert also at UCSF, to investigate the regulation of germinal centre reactions during this important infection.

Dr Erie Boorman

University of Oxford

Dissecting the contribution of anterior prefrontal cortex to decision making with computational, statistical and neuroimaging approaches

Erie began his Fellowship at Caltech in early 2010, working with neuroeconomist Professor Antonio Rangel and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Ralph Adolphs, who have been integrating economic modelling methods with cognitive neuroscientific techniques. Erie has been applying these economic techniques to more precisely pinpoint the component processes involved when people weigh up multiple options, with a special emphasis on the role of anterior sectors of the prefrontal cortex in complex decision-making.

Dr Jenna Cash

Queen Mary, University of London

Defining the role of chemerin peptides and ChemR23 in the endogenous anti-inflammatory network

During her Fellowship Jenna is working at the William Harvey Research Institute with Professor Mauro Perretti, in order to further characterise novel anti-inflammatory pathways in neutrophils and associated inflammatory pathologies. She has recently started a collaboration with Professor Paul Martin at the University of Bristol to investigate the role of this pathway in wound repair. Jenna will then continue her work with Professor Paul Kubes at the University of Calgary.

Dr Molly Crockett

University College London

Automatic and analytical altruism: neurobiological foundations of human prosocial behaviour

Molly is studying the neural basis of human altruism, morality and value-based decision-making. Her research is investigating the influence of neurotransmitters (serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine) on the brain systems that motivate social and economic behaviour. Molly began her Fellowship in 2011 at the University of Zurich, working with economist Professor Ernst Fehr. In 2012 she will return to University College London to conduct brain-imaging studies with neuroscientists Professors Ray Dolan and Peter Dayan.

Dr Samuel Dean

University of Oxford

The trypanosome flagellar pocket – functions and adaptations in differentiation, pathogenicity and immune evasion

Sam began his Fellowship in August 2010. His project investigates the shape, form and biochemistry of the trypanosome flagellar pocket and how this relates to the pathogenicity of the parasite. Sam’s project arose from some surprising discoveries he made during his PhD regarding the response of trypanosome surface molecules to environmental change. He is currently working with Professor Keith Gull in the Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, to learn techniques in electron microscopy and tomography. Sam will also spend time with Professor Markus Engstler at the University of Wurzburg, Germany, to learn advanced live cell imaging techniques.

Dr Helge Dorfmueller

University of Dundee

Mechanism and inhibition of chitin synthesis

As part of his Fellowship, Helge intends to investigate a bacterial homologue of fungal chitin synthases for structural and kinetic studies, with the objective of understanding on a molecular level the reaction mechanism of processive glycosyltransferases and to identify novel chitin synthase inhibitors. He will be working in the laboratories of Dr João H Moraise Cabral at the Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular (Portugal) and Dr David Gray at the University of Dundee, as well as Professor Neil Gow and Dr Carol Munro at the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Daniel Fazakerley

University of Dundee

Use of proteomics and systems biology to dissect the molecular adaptability of metabolism in muscle and fat cells

Daniel is currently working with Professor David James at the Garvan Institute in Sydney, using proteomic techniques and systems analysis to interrogate insulin action. He is particularly interested in the regulation of metabolism by insulin signalling and how this is perturbed in insulin-resistant states. He is hosted by Kei Sakamoto at the Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the University of Dundee, who has expertise in energy-stress signalling – another signalling pathway that impacts on metabolism. By understanding how distinct signalling pathways interact to control cellular metabolism, Daniel hopes to reveal aspects of this network that are dysregulated in disease states.

Dr Rachel Freathy

Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter

The role of maternal and offspring metabolic and anthropometric gene variants in fetal and childhood growth

Since starting her Fellowship in 2008, Rachel has had the opportunity to contribute to genome-wide association studies that identified genes for type 2 diabetes, BMI, height and, more recently, birth weight. Her Fellowship aims to follow up these studies by investigating the roles of these genes in fetal and childhood growth. She is spending time in Chicago, Bristol, Oxford and Exeter to work with and learn from experts in genetics and epidemiology, and to analyse genetic associations in large datasets of mothers and their babies from around the world.

Dr Demis Hassabis

University College London

Understanding the episodic memory system and its critical role in future thinking

Demis is currently working at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at UCL with Professor Peter Dayan, where he will build computational models of episodic memory and future thinking. He will also undertake periods of research in Professor Tomaso Poggio's laboratory at MIT and Professor Daniel Schacter's laboratory at Harvard.

Dr Nerea Irigoyen

University of Cambridge

Ribosomal frame-shifting and read-through in virus gene expression

Nerea is working in Dr Ian Brierley's laboratory in the Division of Virology, University of Cambridge, investigating the implication of frame-shifting and read-through in retrovirus replication, which can lead to a potential selection of antiviral agents that would be able to target these steps. She has planned to spend time in two other laboratories – those of Dr Robert Gilbert at the Structural Biology Institute in Oxford (cryo-EM reconstruction of read-through pseudoknot-stalled ribosome complexes and isothermal titration calorimetry of morpholino oligonucleotide-pseudoknot complexes) and Professor Stuart Siddell in Bristol (frame-shifting in coronavirus).

Dr Benjamin Judkewitz

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Optofluidic microscopy for portable low-cost malaria diagnostics

Based at the California Institute of Technology, Benjamin aims to develop a new diagnostic test for malaria in low-income countries, by designing fingertip-sized chip-based microscopes based on a novel principle of microscopy. At the LSHTM and in field trials in Africa, he will refine this approach and assess whether it is suitable for real-world scenarios in low-income countries.

Dr James Kirkbride

University of Cambridge

Social epidemiology of psychoses in East Anglia (SEPEA) study: disentangling poverty, migration and urbanicity

James is a psychiatric epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, studying the social and genetic causes of psychosis. For his Fellowship he has established a major study of the incidence and social determinants of first-episode psychoses in rural communities, where less research has taken place. As part of his Fellowship, he has recently completed a seven-month research placement in Professor Ezra Susser's laboratory at Columbia University, New York, where he developed knowledge on social theory of the causes of, and epigenetic mechanisms in, health and disease.

Dr Andrew Lin

University of Oxford

Stochastic resonance in olfactory sensory perception

Andrew began his Fellowship in August 2009 and is studying the neural circuitry of the olfactory system of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster with Professor Gero Miesenböck at the University of Oxford. He is taking advantage of the relative simplicity and genetic accessibility of the fruit-fly nervous system to dissect circuit mechanisms underlying odour discrimination and olfactory memory.

Dr Line Loken

University of Oxford

Feelings of pain and pleasure – delineating hedonic sensation in the brain

Line is currently based at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and the Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain at the University of Oxford. Her research is focusing on understanding pathways for affective touch (pain and pleasure) and how signals via these pathways are encoded by the human brain. Central to these research plans is microneurography, a technique she has now established at Oxford, with the aim of combining this powerful tool with neuroimaging.

Dr Andrew MacAskill

University College London

Spine-specific targeting of ion channels in striatal neurons

The focus of Andrew's Fellowship is to determine how an individual neuron distinguishes information from different brain regions at the molecular and cellular level, to allow for input-specific signalling in the nervous system. He is currently investigating this question with Dr Adam Carter at New York University, using a novel combination of two-photon microscopy, fluorescent calcium imaging and optogenetics, to identify and characterise inputs from different brain regions. He will then work with Professor Mark Farrant at UCL to dissect the molecular determinants of these different inputs and create a model of input specificity.

Dr Ivan Matic

Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression, University of Dundee

Quantitative proteomic global profiling of SUMO sub-proteome in signalling pathways

Ivan began his Fellowship in February 2010 at the University of Dundee, where he has joined Professor Ron Hay's group to conduct his research at the interface of sumoylation, mass spectrometry-based proteomics and systems biology.

Dr Hannah Mischo

London Research Institute, CRUK

SEN1 implications in DNA damage: an insight into AOAII

Hannah began her Fellowship in Professor Jesper Svejstrup's laboratory at the London Research Institute in January 2010, where she is collaborating with Ozlem Yuce-Petronczki and Professor Steve West on the biochemical characterisation of Sen1. Hannah is planning to move to the laboratory of Professor Susan Gasser at the Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel, where she will extend her biochemical and genetic work on the molecular functions of Sen1. During her time in both of these laboratories, she will maintain a collaboration with Dr Andres Aguilera.

Dr John Perry

University of Exeter

Identifying low-frequency and rare genetic variation involved in type 2 diabetes using next-generation sequencing

John's Fellowship is enabling him to continue his research on understanding the genetic architecture of complex diseases and traits, with a particular focus on the role of rare genetic variation in type 2 diabetes susceptibility. Based at the University of Exeter, John will be collaborating with Professor Mark McCarthy at the University of Oxford, Professor Timothy Spector at King's College London, Professor Michael Boehnke at the University of Michigan and Professor André Uitterlinden at Erasmus MC in the Netherlands.

Dr Sridharan Rajagopalan

University of Oxford

Proteases as next-generation therapeutics for influenza A

Sridharan is currently working in the laboratory of Dr David Baker at the University of Washington, Seattle. During his Fellowship, he aims to develop computational protocols for designing proteases with strict and defined specificity, using haemagglutinin of influenza A as a case study. The project involves collaborations to elucidate the biochemical and structural aspects of the computationally designed proteases.

Dr Oliver Ratmann

Imperial College London

Unravelling the dynamics of rapidly evolving infectious diseases in humans with Approximate Bayesian Computations

Oliver explores how genetic and epidemiological data can be combined to better understand the disease dynamics of rapidly evolving viruses such as influenza, norovirus and HIV. Both types of data are now often routinely collected and could be used synergistically to investigate, for example, whether influenza's antigenic evolution is punctuated rather than gradual, and how different types of influenza interfere with each other. Oliver's Fellowship started in October 2010, and he is currently based in the laboratory of Dr Koelle at Duke University, USA, to work on influenza. He is also interacting with the Baric lab at the nearby University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to investigate the disease dynamics of norovirus. He will later return to the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London, to join Professor Christophe Fraser's evolutionary epidemiology unit, and apply his techniques to HIV.

Dr Anthony Roberts

University of Leeds

Mechanisms regulating movement and force generated by cytoplasmic dynein

During his Fellowship, Anthony will be studying the action of 'motor proteins' – specialised proteins that travel inside cells and help them organise their contents, move, divide and respond to signals. He is based primarily in the laboratory of Dr Samara Reck-Peterson at Harvard Medical School, sponsored by Professor Peter Knight and Dr Stan Burgess at the University of Leeds and mentored by Professor James Sellers at the NIH.

Dr Bernhard Staresina

University of Cambridge

Functional integration in the human medial temporal lode during episodic memory encoding and retrieval

During his Fellowship, Bernhard is combining intracranial recordings from epilepsy patients and functional imaging in healthy controls, to understand the spatiotemporal mechanisms through which our memories are created.

Dr Aleksandra A Watson

University of Cambridge

The structural basis of the interactions of the NuRD co-repressor complex

Aleksandra began her Fellowship in October 2010 in the laboratory of Professor Ernest Laue at the University of Cambridge. She is investigating the key regulatory role of the NuRD nucleosome remodelling complex in cellular development and cancer progression by studying its structure and composition. Aleksandra collaborates with researchers at EMBL (Grenoble and Hamburg), the Structural Genomics Consortium (Oxford), and the University of Antwerp (Belgium).

Dr Mary Wu

MRC National Institute for Medical Research

Defining the signalling requirements of EMT for both cancer metastasis and neural crest migration

Mary started her Fellowship in March 2010 and is studying how neural crest migration is timed during development in Professor Jim Smith's laboratory at the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research. She has started a small-molecules screen to identify compounds that affect the onset of neural crest migration in zebrafish embryos. Identification of hit compound targets will be carried out in collaboration with Dr Randall Peterson in Boston. In parallel, she is complementing the screen using high-throughput sequencing methods on neural crest cells and Slug-expressing carcinoma cells to study the regulatory networks regulating EMT in these cells.

Dr Elton Zeqiraj

University of Dundee

A structural and biochemical approach to understand the molecular mechanism of glycogen synthesis

Elton began his Fellowship in October 2010, and is currently based in the laboratory of Dr Frank Sicheri at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto. He aims to investigate the molecular assembly of important multi-protein complexes by using structural biology. In collaboration with Dr Kei Sakamoto at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit in Dundee, he will undertake research to enhance the knowledge gained through structural biology, and carry out work aimed at understanding the function of biologically important signalling and metabolic components.

Dr Kaixin Zhou

University of Dundee

Heritability and pharmacogenetics in patients with type 2 diabetes

Kaixin's Fellowship will focus on developing statistical and computational tools for pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomic studies, to uncover the genes influencing drug efficacy and adverse effects. In particular, he will develop methods to address the challenge in clinical datasets of observational and longitudinal nature and apply them to the studies of type 2 diabetes pharmacogenetics in the Diabetes Audit and Research Tayside Study (DARTS) cohort.

Dr J Ross Chapman

London Research Institute, CRUK

Defining the role of BRCA1 and associated proteins in suppressing 53BP1-dependent toxic DNA repair


Dr Thomas Bowden

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford

Molecular and functional basis for bunyaviral attachment and fusion

Dr Jennifer Brookes

University College London

A proposal for the determination of small molecule messages: the enigma of signalling in olfaction

Dr Oliver Davis

King's College London

Identifying patterns of genome-wide association in the development of cognitive, behavioural and psychiatric disorders

Dr Paul Huang

Institute of Cancer Research

Regulation of dendritic cell motility within stromal niches of lymph nodes

Dr Lynsey Meikle

University of Edinburgh

The functional implications of Tsc2 loss in visual cortex plasticity

Dr Marcia Mellado

University of Sussex

Roles of the supporting cells in the mechanical responses and neural excitation in the mammalian cochlea

Dr Jasmina Saric

Imperial College London

Differential metabolic mapping of immune mechanisms: the Leishmania major induced Th paradigm in a new context

Dr Marie Schroeder

University of Oxford

Assessment of in vivo metabolism in failing hearts using hyperpolarised carbon-13 magnetic resonance


Dr Misha Ahrens

University of Cambridge

An integrative approach to finding the neural basis of timing

Dr Martin Bishop

University of Oxford

A combined computational and experimental investigation into the role of anatomical complexity and heterogeneity in the mechanisms of initiation and maintenance of ventricular fibrillation

Dr Marie-Jo Brion

University of Bristol

Public health consequences of modifiable maternal exposures: offspring obesity and cognitive health in two cohorts in the UK and Brazil

Dr Joseph Burgoyne

King's College London

Protein kinase G Ia: from novel substrates, structural analysis and cGMP-independent activation to defining how it mediates cardioprotection

Dr Janine Coombes

University of Oxford

Dynamic imaging of intestinal dendritic cells in oral infection

Dr Matthew Gold

University College London

Control of synaptic transmission by scaffold proteins

Dr Emma Hodson-Tole

Manchester Metropolitan University

Skeletal muscle: dynamic form and function

Dr Rebecca Holmes

Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh

Coupling mRNA processing events: Npl3 as a paradigm

Dr Johanna Hoog

University of Oxford

Shape, form and function in kinetoplastid parasites: the subpellicular microtubule cytoskeleton

Dr Clare Howarth

University of Oxford

The role of astrocytes in the vascular response to neural activity

Dr Zoi Michailidou

University of Oxford

Investigating the role of the HIF system in adipose tissue in obesity

Dr Ede Rancz

University College London

Vestibular representation in the mammalian cortex

Dr Andreas Sonnen

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford

A systematic approach towards understanding innate immunity against trypanosomes

Dr Pauline Speder

Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge

Regulation of neural stem cell behaviour in the central nervous system of drosophila

Dr Andrew Wood

King's College London

Investigating X-chromosome hyperexpression in the animal kingdom: a comparative approach


Dr Luis A Baena-Lopez

MRC National Institute for Medical Research

How do pattern defects cause apoptosis in developing tissues?

Dr Rebecca Baggaley

Imperial College London

Modelling the impact of HSV-2 interventions on HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa

Dr Jordana Bell

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford

Using linkage disequilibrium to identify epistatic variants in human complex traits

Dr Caroline Buckee

University of Oxford

The population structure and expression patterns of Plasmodium falciparum var gene repertoires

Dr Isaac Bianco

University College London

Functional analysis of neural circuitry in the larval zebrafish brain

Dr Shelley Cook

Natural History Museum

Emerging arboviruses: the effect of vector and host biology and genetic diversity on the emergence and maintenance of the flaviviruses

Dr Agnieszka Gambus

University of Birmingham

Functional characterisation of protein complexes present at DNA replication forks

Dr Tracey Gloster

University of York

Dissection of O-glycosylation of nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins

Dr Tobias Grossman

Birkbeck, University of London

The role of the prefrontal cortex in the development of uniquely human social cognition

Dr Tim Hallett

Imperial College London

Modelling the influence of life-course events on the epidemiology of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dr Katie Hampson

University of Glasgow

Understanding the role of contact networks in the epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of zoonotic disease

Dr Nicol Harper

University of Oxford

Functional principles of sound representation in the brain

Dr Shane Herbert

University of Leeds

Molecular genetics of vascular tube lumen formation in development and disease

Dr Thomas Jahn

University of Cambridge

Towards a quantitative understanding of in vivo protein aggregation

Dr Sander van Kasteren

University of Dundee

Probing the role of adjuvants in MHC-II antigen presentation

Dr Alasdair Leslie

University of Oxford

Development and application of a novel HIV pMHC cellular microarray

Dr Benedetto de Martino

University College London

Integrating economic models and cognitive neuroscience: the neurobiology of human decision-making

Dr Joseph Parker

Imperial College London

Understanding allometry: organ-intrinsic positional information and the nutrient-dependent regulation of growth

Dr Robert Snelgrove

Imperial College London

The role of neutrophils in the immunity and pathology of influenza infection

Dr Michael Tyka

University of Bristol

High-resolution protein structure prediction

People we've funded

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