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Fundamental mechanisms of disease

Chlamydia infected cells
Chlamydia infected cells
Chlamydia infected cells

Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of disease can have a huge translational impact and we are internationally recognised in this area. This theme spans a broad range of research areas, including; molecular biology, developmental biology, stem cells and regenerative medicine, immunology, genetics, pharmacology, structural biology and biophysics.


  • Abraham, David

    Metabolic switching regulates cell differentiation in health and disease Short title: Putting myofibroblasts on a diet to attenuate scarring and fibrosis Metabolic switching regulates cell differentiation in health and disease Short title: Putting myofibroblasts on a diet to attenuate scarring and fibrosis

  • Albert, Joeg

    Novel Drosophila models of neurological and neurodegenerative disease

  • Alexandre, Paula

    Understanding the underlying causes of primary microcephaly

  • Alic, Nazif

    Pol I programmes ageing

  • Allan, Elaine

    Microbial Diseases

  • Amoyel, Marc

    Understanding the translational requirements of stem cell differentiation.

  • Andres, Aida

    Have genetic adaptations shaped population disparities in disease risk?

  • Arnvig, Kristine

    Identifying and characterising small RNAs in M. tuberculosis.

  • Bahler, Jurg

    Cancer and ageing: studying leukaemia and blood stem cell exhaustion in the short-lived African killifish.

  • Balloux, Francois

    The genetics of antimicrobial resistance in Gram-negative bacteria

  • Barnes, Chris

    Mathematical modelling of chromosomal instability in healthy and cancer genomes

  • Bhakta, Sanjib

    characterising the physiology of the different metabolic states of Mycobacterium spp., tackling antimicrobial resistance through validating novel therapeutic targets, from identifying hits to optimising novel leads and repurposing existing immunomodulatory drugs to cure TB.

  • Bieschke, Jan

    Can prions cause muscular degeneration? A molecular look at the mechanism of protein aggregation myopathies.

  • Bjedov, Ivana

    Molecular mechanisms of the ageing process

  • Breuer, Judith

    Research in the Breuer lab focusses on the application of next generation sequencing and phylogentics to virus diagnostics and discovery.

  • Brodsky, Frances

    Intracellular membrane traffic pathway relevant to Type 2 diabetes

  • Brown, Jeremy

    Live attenuated vaccines for prevention of Streptococcus pneumoniae pneumonia

  • Browne, Liam

    Neural circuitry underpinning rapid protective behaviour

  • Burns, Siobhan

    Towards Gene Editing for Inherited Immunodeficiencies: Functional modelling & correction of novel disease-causing STAT1 variants.

  • Cabrita, Lisa

    The use of NMR spectroscopy together with biochemical and biophysical methods to study these co-translational folding processes with atomic resolution, in order to understand the fundamental principles of folding and misfolding within the cellular environment.

  • Cambridge, Geraldine

    Exploring molecular mechanisms involved in antigen processing and Immune synapse formation which underly the autoimmune response in patients with Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Caplin, Ben

    DNA-risk variants in chronic kidney disease of unknown cause.

  • Chakraverty, Ronjon

    Defining the clonal architecture of effector T cells in graft-versus-host disease

  • Chambers, Rachel

    mTOR signalling in cancer associated fibroblasts and fibrotic myofibroblasts

  • Charras, Guillaume

    Role of apical signalling in cell and tissue morphogenesis

  • Cheung, Alan

    The fundamental mechanisms of gene transcription and how those mechanisms are used to control mRNA expression in eukaryotes, by combining a variety of structural, biochemical, biophysical and genetic methods to dissect and study RNA polymerase II and the very large macromolecular complexes that mediate transcriptional activation. Our goal is to understand how these complexes act as focal points for transcriptional regulation.

  • Chubb, Jonathan

    Implications of Variability in the DNA Damage Response

  • Ciurtin, Coziana

    Investigating the role of puberty in the pathogenesis of juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus

  • Coker, Alun

  • Crompton, Tessa

    Regulation of the skin T cell response in chronic atopic dermatitis

  • Cutler, Daniel

    The Cellular and Genetic Basis of Human Bleeding Disorders

  • D’Aiuto, Francesco

    Mechanisms of vascular dysfunction in patients with common chronic inflammatory diseases.

  • Dubis, Adam

    Probing dynamics of normal retinal bloodflow

  • Duchen, Michael

    Exploring mitochondrial function in iPS cells from patients with dysfunctional autophagy pathways.

  • Fabrizi, Lorenzo

    Development of functional circuits in the human infant brain

  • Farrant, Mark

  • Fassati, Ariberto

    Preventing HIV-1 reactivation from latency by targeting Hsp90

  • Fernandes, Vilaiwan

    Investigating the signals that drive regional proliferation in the developing visual system.

  • Foukas, Lazaros

    Innate immunity signalling pathways in the regulation of metabolism

  • Gage, Matthew

    New roles of insulin in immune function

  • Galea, Gabriel

    Biomechanical bases of spina bifida

  • Geranton, Sandrine

    Stress and pain mechanisms

  • Gestri, Gaia

  • Gibb, Alasdair

    NMDA receptor pharmacology in substantia nigra dopaminergic neurones.

  • Gold, Matthew

    Investigation of the molecular architecture of synaptic proteins implicated in disease

  • Gout, Ivan

    The study of basic mechanisms by which cell growth and metabolism are regulated in normal and cancer cells. There are two major areas of interest in the laboratory: a) regulation of cellular functions via the mTOR/S6K signalling pathway; and b) the role of Coenzyme A and its derivatives in cellular metabolism and gene expression.

  • Greenwood, John

    Probing dynamics of normal retinal bloodflow

  • Guillot, Pascale

    Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of bone remodelling in osteogenesis imperfecta: what causes bones to become brittle?

  • Hardcastle, Alison

    A Systems Genetics Approach to Determine the Pathogenic Mechanisms of Keratoconus

  • Harvey, Kirsten

  • Henriques, Ricardo

    Analysis of HIV receptor/co-receptor distribution by super-resolution imaging

  • Jalan, Rajiv

    The Non-Canonical Inflammasome in Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure: Defining New Targets for Therapy

  • Janes, Sam

    Designing and testing a new therapy for cancer through inhibition of BAP1

  • Jenner, Richard

    Inhibition of oncogenic Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) with G-quadruplex RNA

  • Jolly, Clare

    Understanding how HIV-1 assembles in and disseminates between CD4 T cells - the main targets for HIV-1 infection in vivo.

  • Jovanovic, Jasmina

    Deconstructing the molecular pathways to benzodiazepine tolerance-in silico, in vitro and in vivo

  • Jury, Liz

    Regulation of immune cell function by modulating plasma membrane lipids in health and autoimmunity (multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus)

  • Kinghorn, Kerri

  • Kuchenbaecker, Karoline

    The role of gene regulation in the genetic architecture of susceptibility to hormone-related cancers

  • Labbadia, John

    Investigating the relationship between metabolic dysregulation and protein aggregation using in vivo protein folding sensors and fluorescence lifetime imaging

  • Li, Huiliang

    Myelin lipid metabolism in ageing and ageing-related neurodegeneration

  • Lloyd, Alison

    Reaching homeostasis

  • Lowe, Alan

    We create and develop state-of-the-art quantitative imaging and measurement tools and use them to determine how biological machines and systems function. The major goal of our research is to identify the principles and mechanisms by which an ensemble of molecules or cells generate particular dynamic temporal or spatial patterns, and how complex functions emerge from that organisation.

  • Mao, Yanlan

    The mechanical control of tissue repair and regeneration

  • Marechal, Amandine

  • Marsh, Mark

    Analysis of HIV receptor/co-receptor distribution by super-resolution imaging

  • Matter, Karl

    Investigation the structure and functions of tight junctions and, particularly, on how tight junctions receive signals that guide junction assembly and function and how they signal to the cell interior to guide cell proliferation and survival. This led to important findings that provided new insights into the structure and function of tight junctions.

  • McCoy, Laura

    Characterisation of single B cells responding to vaccination during HIV infection

  • Mehta, Gautam

    The Non-Canonical Inflammasome in Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure: Defining New Targets for Therapy

  • Moores, Carolyn

    Our research is focused on understanding microtubule organisation and dynamics, and how these are harnessed for the life and health of the cell.

  • Morris, Emma

    Neural circuitry underpinning rapid protective behaviour

  • Mullany, Peter

    The contribution of horizontal gene transfer to the evolution of pathogenicity of Clostridium difficile

  • Nair, Sean

    A friend becomes a foe: The molecular toolbox of the enterococcal pathogenicity island

  • Nikolic, Marko

    Study of immunoepithelial interactions throughout human embryonic and foetal lung development to inform adult regenerative processes

  • O’Brien, Alastair

    Lipid-activated LXR receptors in fatty liver disease

  • Orengo, Christine

    My group develops computational methods for classifying proteins into evolutionary families.

  • Orlova, Elena

    Bacteriophage assembly

  • Osborne, Andrew

  • Partridge, Linda

    The aim of our research is to discover genes and mechanisms that determine the rate of ageing.

  • Payne, Elspeth

    In vivo analysis of haematopoeitic stem and progenitor cell development to define routes to Gata2-mutated leukaemias.

  • Pearson, Rachael

    Extracellular vesicles in inherited retinal degenerations

  • Pedarzani, Paola

    Synergistic action of multiple ion transport protein mutations in Ohtahara syndrome: dissecting a complex channelopathy.

  • Philips, James

    Development of safe and effective therapeutic cells for nervous system tissue engineering

  • Pichaud, Franck

    Mechanisms of epithelial tissue integrity

  • Pineda-Torra, Ines

    Lipid-activated LXR receptors in fatty liver disease

  • Price, Stephen

    Cadherin gene function in midbrain neuronal nucleus formation

  • Raleigh, Daniel

  • Reeves, Matthew

    Characterising the interaction of a novel viral de-sumoylase with host targets

  • Rihel, Jason

    Neuroanatomical, Functional, and Behavioral Characterization of Novel Zebrafish Models of Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Roberts, Anthony

    We are investigating the mechanisms by which molecules are spatially organized within living cells.

  • Robinson, Philip

    We are interested in gaining a molecular understanding of the processes that regulate DNA accessibility and control the transcriptional state of gene promoters.

  • Rodriguez-Viciana, Pablo

    The SHOC2 phosphatase complex as a therapeutic target in RAS-driven cancers

  • Saibil, Helen

    The Saibil group studies the operation of macromolecular machines using three-dimensional electron microscopy.

  • Salama, Alan

    Investigating granuloma formation and defining novel therapeutic targets in autoimmune granulomatosis with polyangitis

  • Sansom, David

    Understanding the biology of the CTLA-4 immune checkpoint

  • Santini, Joanne

    My current research involves the study of microorganisms that metabolise toxic metals and metalloids such as arsenic.

  • Schorge, Stephanie

    Towards new treatments: Probing the mechanisms that lead to migraine

  • Secrier, Maria

    Genomic mechanisms in cellular signalling pathways leading to metastatic transformation of oesophageal cancers

  • Selwood, David

  • Sivilotti, Lucia

    Startle disease channelopathies and the gating of glycine channels

  • Smart, Trevor

    Dysfunctional NMDA receptors associated with epilepsy

  • Smith, Andrew

    Investigating the role of autophagy in immune regulation and inflammation

  • Stefan, Christopher

    Targeting ER Stress in Neurodegenerative Disease

  • Tada, Masa

    Investigating the mechanism of oncogenic cell extrusion at the earliest stage of cancer initiation

  • Tape, Chris

    Single-Cell Microbiome Signalling in Cancer

  • Thalassinos, Konstantinos

    The Thalassinos lab is interested in studying the structure of proteins and protein complexes using a combination of mass spectrometry, ion mobility mass spectrometry and proteomics approaches. It also develops computational tools, when necessary, to process the data obtained.

  • Thompson, Chris

    Single cell analysis of gene expression changes during cell differentiation

  • Towers, Greg

    All HIV infections are not equal: HIV capsid as a determinant of pandemicity

  • Trapp, Stefan

    The role of GLP-1 producing neurons in central appetite control circuits

  • van der Spuy, Jacqueline

    Proteostasis dysfunction in the polyglutamine expansion disease Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3 (Machado-Joseph Disease)

  • Vanhaesebroeck, Bart

    Identification and characterization of modulators of the distinct vps34 PI 3-kinase complexes

  • Vaughan, Cara

  • Vergani, Paola

    Exploiting pharmacology to understand molecular mechanisms of cystic fibrosis

  • Wallace, Bonnie

    My lab focuses on structure/function studies of membrane proteins and polypeptides, especially those involved in ion translocation and transport.

  • Wilson, Stephen

    Investigating genetic interactions between genes implicated in congenital abnormalities of eye formation and function

  • Zbedik, Anselm

    Patho-mechanisms of disease-causing mutations in KCNJ10

Theme leaders

Current students

  • Alexandra Petrache

    Having had the misfortune of seeing the effects of Alzheimer's Disease on a close friend of my parents' , I came to realise the burden it places on patients, family members and friends. I decided to understand it better and therefore chose to do my PhD project with Dr. Afia Ali at the UCL School of Pharmacy, hoping to do my part in curing this debilitating disease.

  • Evgenia Markova

    My passion lies in structural and molecular biology, which means I spend most of my time in basements in front of microscopes. I am interested in the behavior of the building blocks of biological systems on a nanometer scale. In my PhD project in the Zanetti Lab in ISMB, I am investigating the assembly of an intracellular transport system that is crucial for trafficking in the eukaryotic cell.

  • Glen Gronland

    I'm interested in studying the regulation of gene expression through molecular and cell biology, and biophysics. In particular, I'd like to explore how post-transcriptional regulation is achieved through the combined functions of RNA-binding proteins and non-coding RNAs, and how these processes can go wrong in the context of disease.

  • Inga Steindal

    I work in the Whitmore lab on circadian rhythms, in particular in animals that live in extreme environments. The biological clock is primarily set by light and found in all animals and plants, where it regulates most of our cell biology, physiology and aspects of behavior like sleep. I am interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying this rhythm in health and disease and, by studying animals that live in arrhythmic environments such as caves and the deep-sea, hope to provide new insights into how our body rhythms work.

  • Karina Vitanova

    Although the brain is an integral part of our body, there is still very limited knowledge as to how it operates and what perturbs its normal functioning. I am interested in understanding the initial mechanisms which disrupt the integrity of neuronal networks and will aim to find ways to target them to prevent subsequent neuronal death. Hopefully, my research will provide some insight as to what triggers the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Kaylee Worlock

    My research interest lie in field molecular and cellular biology, with a particular focus upon the mechanism underlying human health and disease. To date, despite the growing evidence behind the crucial role the immune system has to play within normal lung homeostasis and pathogenesis, the immuno-epithelial interplay within human fetal lung development remains largely uncharacterised. Working as part of UCL Respiratory my current project looks to try and elucidate these interactions, with the hope of providing a better understanding of human lung embryology and future support for neonatal care.

  • Laura Pokorny

    My motivation to pursue a PhD was driven by a fascination surrounding how pathogens, although completely invisible to the human eye, cause devastating disease. In particular, I am passionate about understanding the complex interactions between the pathogen and the host during infection. This led me to undertake a PhD in Jason Mercer’s lab at the LMCB studying the entry and replication of the prototypical poxvirus, Vaccinia.

  • Lily Goodyer Sait

    My research interests lie within discovering novel drug targets and therapies, with a particular focus on neurological-based diseases. Consequently, this has led to me undertaking rotations within a variety of labs involved in bioengineering, structural biology and stem cell research. In conclusion, I hope to do research which will not only impact our understanding of disease, but directly go on to improve people’s lives.

  • Mphatso Kalemera

    Though generally interested in many areas of cell and molecular biology, I’d say my passion lies within Infection Immunology. For my PhD in Dr Joe Grove’s group at the Royal Free, my research aims to delineate how antibody evasion strategies influence the entry kinetics and receptor usage of Hepatitis C virus. Among other techniques, I will be utilising category III virus infection assays and super resolution microscopy to address these questions

  • Nathan Day

    I am a physicist by training so my primary interests lie in super-resolution microscopy and quantitative image analysis, as well as molecular dynamics and other computational approaches

  • Rebecca Powell

    I am interested in understanding why and how things go wrong in the body in order to improve outcomes for people suffering from disease or injuries. In my current rotation I am looking at T cells and the factors influencing their differentiation. I have also chosen to do a lab rotation in stem cell research and HIV as I have an interest in regenerative medicine and infectious disease.