Role or Position
Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow
Tutor for Medicine
My background is in molecular genetics, and my research now focuses on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. My first degree was Natural Sciences (Part II Genetics) at the University of Cambridge (1995), and I then gained my D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 1999. From 2000-2003 I worked at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School as an Instructor and a Wellcome Trust Travelling Research Fellow. Then, in 2004 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship and established my own research group back in Oxford at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. In October 2006 I joined the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics as a University Lecturer and also as Tutor for Medicine at Christ Church. Richard heads the Molecular Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory and is the Principal Investigator of the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre, a new multi-disciplinary research initiative supported by the Monument Discovery Award from Parkinson’s UK.
I take college tutorials in the molecular and cellular aspects of the 1st BM Medical degree.
I head up the Molecular Neurodegeneration and Gene Therapy Research Group and my work consequently has two main interests. First, my laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. The work on neurodegeneration focuses in two areas; specifically, the study of gene expression in post-mortem patient brain tissue, and the study of cellular and molecular functions of key proteins in biological models of neurodegeneration. Examples of the genes the laboratory studies include microtubule associated protein tau (MAPT), alpha-synuclein (SNCA) and leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2). Neurodegenerative disease and dementia are set to become increasingly important in the aging populations of the Western world and understanding the molecular mechanisms will be the key to developing improved therapies.
In 2009 Richard led a consortium of Oxford scientists in obtaining the the Monument Trust Discovery Award, a £5 million five year award from Parkinson's UK. The award led to the establishment of the Oxford Parkinson's Disease Centre (OPDC; http://opdc.medsci.ox.ac.uk
), a new grouping of scientists and clinicians launched in February 2010. We are exploiting the unique interdisciplinary research environment within Oxford and have established a leading centre focused on understanding the earliest pathological pathways in PD.
The second interest of my laboratory is in the field of gene therapy, specifically in developing novel viral gene expression vectors based on herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). We have developed a unique HSV-1 based vector system for the delivery and expression of complete genomic DNA loci named the infectious bacterial artificial chromosome, or iBAC, vector. Current projects are developing the iBAC vector system to treat the cellular and biochemical deficiencies associated with the genetic diseases familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) and Friedreich's ataxia (FA).
Hockey, cricket, poetry, Morris Minors