UCL Division of Medicine


Division of Medicine Research Retreat 2023

11 May 2023

The Division of Medicine Research Retreat took place on Thursday 11th May 2023. 48 posters were selected for moderated poster sessions and 11 PhD / Postdoc Researchers were selected for oral presentations.

Photo taken from the back of the conference room at the division of medicine retreat

The standard of all the presentations at the retreat was incredibly high and showcased the excellent work taking place accross all departments in the Division of Medicine. A list of all presenters with their abstract titles can be found below. 

All Oral Presenters

  • Dr Jo Barnes ‘Early human lung immune cell development and its role in epithelial cell fate’ (Respiratory Medicine)
  • Katie Wong ‘The clinical demographics and natural history of rare kidney diseases in the UK: A longitudinal descriptive analysis using data from the UK National Rare Renal Disease Registry (RaDaR)’ (Renal Medicine)
  • Dr Olivia Bracken '‘Soluble epoxide hydrolase as a tractable target for treating chronic inflammatory disease’ (Experimental & Translational Medicine'
  • Andres Garcia Sampedro 'Immuno-oncology biomarkers for improved diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma in primary sclerosing cholangitis: insights from the inflammatory and fibrotic tumour microenvironment.’ (Institute for Liver & Digestive Health)
  • Dr Anna Kleymann 'When can cholesterol treat the heart?’ (Experimental & Translational Medicine)
  • Dr Thomas McDonnell 'A Distinct Population of Monocytes in APS/SLE Patients: The Role of Complement’ (Inflammation)
  • Dr Venkat Reddy 'Dimethyl Fumarate Modulates T cell metabolism and function in systemic lupus erythematosus patient samples’ (Inflammation)
  • Niyaz Zaman ‘Novel Autophagy Targeting Chimeras (AUTACs) Enable Proximity-Induced Degradation of Mitochondria’ (Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research)
  • Adama Fatima Saccoh ‘Imaging the efficiency of ultrasound guided delivery of Regenerative therapies’ (Imaging)
  • Joshua Carmichael ‘Dimerization of FHR5 and a mechanism for the surface regulation of complement’(Renal Medicine)
  • Dr Puja Mehta ‘Single cell RNA sequencing of PBMCs reveals differences between fast and slow resolving postCOVID interstitial lung disease’ (Respiratory Medicine)

Poster Presenters

1. Agnieszka Jaworowska (cancelled) 'Edible seaweeds: a novel source of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids' (Department of Education / Experimental & Translational Medicine)

2. Khalid Alotaibi  'Targeted Temperature Management; efficacy, duration, and the optimal method of implementation on OHCA patients' (Experimental & Translational Medicine)

3. George Collins  'A new model of measuring neutrophil phagosomal maturation and phagocytosis of bacteria in humans in vivo using the intradermal injection of methylene blue-labelled E. coli' (Experimental & Translational Medicine)

4. Emily Lupton  'Rapid quantification of diffuse cardiac fibrosis using microCT in mice' (Imaging)

5. Samuel Hopgood  'Quantum Nanodiamond Surveillance for the Ultrasensitive Detection of Microbial Pathogens in Wastewater' (Imaging)

6. Emmeline Brown  'RetinaSim: A physics-informed framework for generating synthetic retinal blood vessel networks for training neural networks and simulating opthalmolgical pathophysiology' (Imaging)

7. Zhiping Feng  'Optimization of Injectable Biomaterial Patches for Minimal Invasive Delivery of Therapeutic Grafts' (Imaging)

8. Max McRobbie  'Smartphone-connected reader for fluorescent nanodiamond lateral flow assay' (Imaging)

9. Douglas M slopes  'Investigating the Role of Aquaporin-4 Mediated Glymphatic Clearance in Parkinson’s Disease' (Imaging)

10. Alyssa Thomas Decruz  'Ultrasensitive fluorescent nanodiamond diagnostics for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigen using spin modulation' (Imaging)

11. Guglielmo Verona  'Calcium binds to transthyretin with low affinity' (Inflammation)

12. Tomas Cerdo Raez  'Combined proteomics and machine learning analysis to identify biomarkers of disease diagnosis and severity for systemic lupus erythematosus' (Inflammation)

13. Lucia Martin  'Juvenile Sjögren’s syndrome is characterised by dysregulated of B and T memory cell frequencies: a pilot immunophenotyping analysis of this rare disease phenotype' (Inflammation)

14. Yumna Ahmed (replaced Eleanor Hawkins) 'Diversity, equity and inclusion reflected in the rheumatology research cohort – a real time snapshot' (Inflammation)

15. Claire Beesley  'Genetic and molecular bases of defective tolerance induction of autoreactive B lymphocytes in systemic sclerosis' Inflammation)

16. Diana Canetti  'Oxidation of transthyretin leads to H90D variant misidentification in ATTR amyloid deposits by proteomics' (Inflammation)

17. Kavina Shah  'Overcoming Rituximab resistance in autoimmune disease: back to basics' (Inflammation)

18. Maria Castanho Martins 'Impact of PNPLA3 rs738409 and TM6SF2 rs58542926 mutations on liver metastasis in small intestine neuroendocrine tumours'  (Institute for Liver and Digestive Health)

19. Harry Hodgetts  'Mesenteric fibrosis in small intestinal neuroendocrine tumours (SI-NETs): pathogenesis' (Institute for Liver and Digestive Health)

20. Catherine Chieng  'Bacterial diversity in chronic urinary tract infection and healthy postmenopausal women' (Renal Medicine)

21. Benjamin Murray  'Development of an in vitro human bladder cancer model within a healthy urothelial context to use as a testbed for novel treatments' (Renal Medicne)

22. David Pitcher  'Long-term outcomes in IgA nephropathy' (Renal Medicne)

23. Chutong Zhong  'Targeted Isolation of Urine-derived Renal Tubular Epithelial Cells (uRTECs) for Personlised Medicine' (Renal medicine)

24. Alessandra Grillo  'Development of a 3D organ-on-chip model of the collecting duct for disease modelling' (Renal Medicine)

25. Qingyang Kong  'Accessing the antimicrobial properties of Polymer A against urinary pathogens' (Renal Medicine)

26. Kate Morling  'Design, synthesis and characterisation of cofactor-mimicking HIV-1 capsid inhibitors' (WIBR Neurosciences)

27. Tianhao Gao  'The function of CH25H in neuroinflammatory conditions' (WIBR Neurosciences)

28. Marina Nick 'Does Auranofin have anthelmintic properties?' (Respiratory Medicine)

29. David Osuna de la Peña 'Intrinsic and extrinsic determinants of premalignancy in the airways' (Respiratory Medicine)

30. Abdullah Ghazwani  'Investigating how antibody levels against Streptococcus pneumoniae protein antigens can be linked to infection susceptibility' (Respiratory Medicine)

31. Giuseppe Ercoli 'Protein array screening as a tool to identify new carrier proteins for the development of an innovative conjugated vaccine against pneumococcus' (Respiratory Medicine)

32. Lama AlQahtani  'Role of Microbiome in the Outcome of the Pre-invasive Lung Cancer Lesions' (Respiratory Medicine)

33. Greg Contento  'Resistance to GLS1 inhibition reveals conditionally essential metabolic genes during fibrogenesis' (Respiratory Medicine)

34. Zoe Whiteman  'Evaluating the potential of an interventional immunotherapy in a pre-clinical model of lung squamous cell carcinoma' (Respiratory Medicine)

35. Sharenja Ratnakumar 'Pulmonary 18F-FDG Up-Take Refines Current Risk Stratification in Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonitis (NSIP) and Predicts Response to Treatment' (Respiratory Medicine)

36. Jo-Anne Wilson ' RNA-seq analysis in combination with CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing reveals a key role for mTORC1 signalling in influencing the TGF-β1-induced fibrotic response' (Respiratory Medicine)

37. Trisha Kerai (Cancelled) 'Characterization of two LysM Domain Proteins Involved in S. Pneumoniae Cell Shape and Virulence' (Respiratory Medicine) 

38. Kaylee Worlock  'Human SARS-CoV-2 challenge resolves local and systemic response dynamics'  (Respiratory Medicine) 

39. Amany Ammar  'Investigating tobacco-induced genetic changes in alveolar epithelial cells' (Respiratory Medicine) 

40. George Sophocleous (replaced Kamila Kamuda)  'Changes in the cellular landscape of elicited by expression of Z variant of α1-antitrypsin' (Respiratory Medicine) 

41. Osamah Alsuhimi 'MUC1 carrying sialylated core 1 glycans as a novel diagnostic biomarker for interstitial lung disease (ILD)' (Respiratory Medicine) 

42. Samantha Palethorpe  'Developing a Novel Antibody Therapy for Multidrug Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii Infections' (Respiratory Medicine) 

43. Jonathan O'Loughlin 'The impact of resistin on neutrophil effector function and immunopathology in ARDS' (Respiratory Medicine) 

44. Hugh Selway 'In Silico Testing of Hypotheses for the Effect of Smoking on Somatic Evolution in the Healthy Human Lung' (Respiratory Medicine) 

45. Jessica Orr 'Compound screening in primary human airway basal cells identifies Wnt pathway modulators as potential pro-regenerative therapies' (Respiratory Medicine) 

46. Rachel Walters  'Investigating Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis-associated mutations and their effect on the mTOR axis' (Respiratory Medicine) 

47. Emma Denneny 'Who gets persistent symptoms and why - analysing the plasma proteome in long COVID'  (Respiratory Medicine) 

48. Rebecca Giddings  'Factors influencing clinician and patient interaction with Machine Learning based risk prediction models' (Respiratory Medicine) 

49. Sarah Lowen  'Preparation and characterisation of the alpha-1-antitrypsin pathway in atomic detail by  NMR spectroscopy' (Respiratory Medicine) 

50. Romina Arzili Moshtagh  'Preparing for the First Breath: Delineating Late Foetal Human Lung Development and Maturation'  (Respiratory Medicine) 


Division of Medicine Education Excellence Award

This year's Education Excellence Award went to Dr Alireza Mani. He received the most nominations from students. Some student comments are shown below.

Alireza profile photo on the beach with blue shirt

'There is never a boring lecture or SGT with Dr Mani. He engages and encourages the students throughout the entire year , allowing us to freely ask questions on any topics. He is honestly the most supportive tutor/lecturer I've met in UCL.'

'He is one of the best professors I’ve ever had. He has an excellent attitude (you can tell he loves teaching) and is super nice. He is also a great teacher so explains concepts patiently. He makes the classroom / lecture a more welcoming place.'
All nominees are shown below:

  • Dr Adrian Brown and Dr Efstathia Papada
  • Dr Adrian Slee
  • Dr Anastasia Kalea
  • Dr Diana Canetti
  • Dr Alireza Mani
  • Dr Ben Walsh
  • Professor David Selwood
  • Dr Fausto Andreola
  • Dr Giuseppe Ercoli
  • Dr Ioannis Papaioannou
  • Dr Joanna Donavon
  • Dr Joseph Ndieyira
  • Dr Vitor De Sousa Teixeira
  • Dr Nepthali Marina-González
  • Dr Graham Taylor
  • Dr Horia Stanescu
  • Dr Paul Robinson
  • Professor Nathan Davies
  • Professor Andrew Davenport

Division of Medicine Research Award 2022

Marko Nikolic profile picture with white short against  white background
This year all departments nominated an individual for a new annual Research Award. All Heads of Department voted for the candidate they felt most deserving of the award for research in 2022. Dr Marko Nikolic received the most votes for his outstanding research conducted as part of the scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic which was published in Nature. This important body of work provided remarkable and entirely novel findings which might explain why COVID-19 is typically milder in children compared with adults. It also represents a major collaborative research effort lead by UCL in collaboration with the Sanger Institute as evidenced by the fact that the first two authors are from Dr Nicolic’s team at UCL and are listed as equal first authors with the following two authors; whereas Dr Nicolic and Dr Meyer (Sanger) are listed as joint senior authors.


All nominees for the Research Award 2022

Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research – Professor James Cox – for identifying two human genes ZFHX2 and FAAH OUT which is a lncRNA which are intimately involved in pain perception. People with these altered genes either feel no pain or have very different pain sensitivities. These discoveries have achieved widespread recognition even reaching mainstream media outlets such as the Times article (Dec 2022), Scientific American, and BBC Science focus magazine. The identification of these genes in the human population could lead to the discovery of new pain medicines in the future.

Experimental and Translational Medicine - Professor Arne Akbar for his work on immune senescence, culminating on a recent discovery of how dendritic cells make T cells become younger during antigen presentation

Institute for Liver and Digestive Health - Professor Emmanouil (Manolis) Tsochatzis is one of the most emerging and innovative specialists in Clinical Hepatology worldwide.   He published 34 papers in 2022, with key impactful contributions including the Baveno VII consensus on the management of portal hypertension (renewed every 5 years, >1000 citations) in Journal of Hepatology, 2 international public health policy consensus statements on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in Nature Reviews in Gastroenterology and Hepatology and a paper on the outcomes of liver disease in patients with type II diabetes in Journal of Hepatology.

Imaging - Professor Mark Lythgoe for his recent contributions to the field of Medical Imaging. His pioneering work in developing cutting-edge imaging technologies are advancing the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Mark's visionary approach has bridged the gap between medical imaging technology and clinical applications, resulting in a new class of technology - a Theranostic MRI.

Inflammation – Dr Muhammad Shipa He was first author on the main manuscript for the clinical trial published at the end of 2021 in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Impact factor 51) (1). During 2022 he completed the complex biomarker analysis of the trial using his skills in machine learning which has led to a patent, further funding from VersusArthritis and GSK and publication of his results in Lancet Rheumatology (Impact factor 35) (2). The latter publication attracted significant interest, not least an editorial, a commentary and cover picture for the January issue of Lancet Rheumatology.

Renal Medicine – Dr Melanie Chan - Melanie is a nephrologist who has developed a subspecialty clinical and research interest in inherited kidney disease and structural urinary tract malformations. Her research focuses on leveraging large-scale whole genome sequencing data to gain novel insights into the underlying genetic architecture of these and other conditions. She was awarded the UK Kidney Association Raine Award in 2023 for her contribution to renal research as a junior investigator. 

Respiratory Medicine – Dr Marko Nikolic – for his outstanding research conducted as part of the scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic which was published in Nature (see ref below). This important body of work provided remarkable and entirely novel findings which might explain why COVID-19 is typically milder in children compared with adults. It also represents a major collaborative research effort lead by UCL in collaboration with the Sanger Institute as evidenced by the fact that the first two authors are from Dr Nicolic’s team at UCL and are listed as equal first authors with the following two authors; whereas Dr Nicolic and Dr Meyer (Sanger) are listed as joint senior authors.