MA (Oxford); DPhil (Oxford)
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. I was appointed an Associate Professor in 2014 and a Professor in 2015. I head the Molecular Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory and am Director of the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC), a multi-disciplinary research initiative supported by the £11 million Monument Trust Discovery Award from Parkinson’s UK (2010-2020). I also play a leading role in the UK Dementia Platform (DPUK) and head the DPUK National Stem Cell Network.
I head up the Molecular Neurodegeneration Research Group at the University of Oxford and my laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and related disorders. The work 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), leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) and glucocerebrosidase (GBA).
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. We have developed a leading expertise in the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from patients to study the molecular mechanisms of disease and to discover new drug targets.
In 2009 I led a consortium of Oxford scientists in obtaining 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), a grouping of scientists and clinicians launched in February 2010. We have exploited the unique interdisciplinary research environment within Oxford and established a leading centre focused on understanding and targeting the earliest pathological pathways in Parkinson’s, refunded from 2015-2020 for a further £6 million.
Other interests and activities
I enjoy hockey, cricket, poetry and Morris Minors.