WIMM Principal Investigators



Ahmed Ahmed is a surgeon in OUH treating patients with ovarian cancer. His research investigates microscopic, residual, chemotherapy-resistant disease. This group asks if there are common mutations that might suggest new ways to treat these micro-tumours, which are the source of untreatable recurrence in ovarian cancer. 

Collaborates with Complete Genomics. 

Ahmed is a co-Investigator on the BRC Cancer and the BRC surgical themes.  

Supported by MRC, Ovarian Cancer Action, Target Ovarian Cancer, Helen Clarke Fund, BRC, CRUK and Camella Samuel Fund

Affiliation:  WIMM Fellow/Obs & Gynae


Oliver Bannard is a cellular immunologist who has a specific interest in how antibody mediated immune responses develop and are regulated. Oliver’s research is focused upon better understanding the biology of germinal centres - unique structures that form within secondary lymphoid tissues following infections and immunizations and that are the principle sites of high affinity antibody development. Germinal centers give rise to long-lived memory B cells and antibody secreting plasma cells that provide immunity. However, germinal centre responses can also generate lymphomas and contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases when their regulation fails. It is hoped that by gaining a better understanding of biology of germinal centres it will become possible to design better vaccines and to develop novel therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Supported by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship (The Royal Society/The Wellcome Trust), MRC.

Affiliation: HIU


David Beeson’s basic research in neurogenetics is integrated with the National Referral Centre for the Congenital Myasthenic Syndromes based in the JR and Churchill Hospitals. He is working towards a stratified and personalised approach to these diseases. Therapy, which is highly effective, is tailored to each individual, with 6 drugs given in various combinations depending on which of 19 genes is mutated and the resulting underlying disease mechanism.

National Reference Centre for the Congenital Myasthenic Syndromes.

Industrial collaboration with Novartis. 

Supported by Myasthenia Gravis Association, John Moulton Charitable Foundation, and Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, and the NHS Specialist Commissioning Group, WT and the MRC

Affiliation:  NSG


Andrew Blackford studies how cells respond to DNA damage & why DNA repair defects cause diseases such as cancer. His research is focused on understanding how the products of genes mutated in DNA repair and cancer predisposition disorders such as Bloom syndrome are regulated by post-translational modifications and protein-protein interactions, using a combination of bioinformatics, proteomics and CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing techniques. He also aims to translate his group’s research to develop novel cancer treatments and inform existing ones. In particular, he is interested in the potential utility of signalling events for use as biomarkers and to identify novel targets in the DNA damage response for anti-cancer drugs.

Supported by a Cancer Research UK Career Development Fellowship

Affiliation: Oncology


Walter Bodmer is interested in the biology of colorectal cancer and characterising such tumours by their cellular, transcriptional and epigenetic properties. They work on 120 well characterised colorectal cell lines and on cell cultures from primary tumours. They are identifying tumour stem cells and identifying the key genes that determine “stemness” and differentiation. They study the responses of these cell lines to a wide variety of drugs and antibodies with a view to optimising the clinical treatment of colorectal cancers.

Industrial collaboration with Becton Dickinson and Roche

Supported by the Bowel Disease Research Foundation and the EU

Affiliation:  Mol Onc/Department of Oncology


Veronica Buckle is working to understand the role played by chromatin organisation in gene regulation and by chromatin assembly in human erythropoietic disease. She is part of the newly established Oxford BRC Red Cell theme, which is being developed as part of a UK wide initiative to diagnose rare forms of anaemia.

Member of BRC Blood Theme

Supported by MRC

Affiliation: MHU


Zameel Cader is a clinical neurologist in OUHS who leads the 50M€, IMI-funded StemBANCC academic/industrial project consortium to use iPS cells for modelling and developing new therapies for human neurological diseases. His research group has a particular interest in the genetics of migraine and he is the Director of the Oxford Headache Centre and Clinical Director for the Mental Health, Neurology and Dementia Strategic Clinical Network.

BRC Dementia and Genomic Medicine theme

Collaborates with MRCT, Roche, Janssen, Lilly, Pfizer, Abbvie, Merck, Sanofi, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novo Nordisk, Orion

Supported by EU StemBANCC, Oxford BRC, AFM, WT

Affiliation: NSG


Vincenzo Cerundolo is an honorary consultant Oncologist, Director of the MRC Human Immunology Unit, and Head of the RDM Investigative Medicine Division. His group works in the rapidly developing field of tumour immunology. His group studies the mechanisms controlling activation of innate and adaptive, tumour-specific immune responses with the aim of designing the next generation of cancer vaccines. 

Member of BRC Infection and Immunity Theme

Industrial Collaborators: BLiNK Therapeutics

Supported by MRC, WT, CRUK, EU 7th Framework

H Index: 70

Affiliation: HIU


David Clynes is a Group Leader within the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology and Department of Oncology, based at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine.  After obtaining his D.Phil. in the School of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford in 2008, he undertook postdoctoral work with Richard Gibbons and Doug Higgs in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Oxford.  He has been awarded a Children with Cancer UK Paul O'Gorman Research Fellowship and took up this position in January 2017.




Richard Cornall is an immunologist and consultant physician. His research is directed to understanding how the immune system develops, how immunological memory arises and is retained and how this is perturbed in immune deficiencies and autoimmune disorders. His work involves the study of Mendelian disease in humans and in animal models and, together with Professor Simon Davis, he is working on the development of antibodies to activate lymphocyte inhibitory receptors

Member of BRC Immunology Theme

Industrial collaborators: UBC, Lilly

Supported by MRC, WT, Oxford Biomedical Centre

Affiliation: HIU


Simon Davis runs a basic and translational research laboratory trying to understand leucocyte receptor triggering and developing superagonist antibodies to control T-cell activation in the immune system. This very novel approach is of considerable interest to those developing new types of healthcare and has already been taken up by industry in collaboration with his lab.

Industrial collaborations: Not at present, but currently in discussions with a European Pharma

Supported by MRC, WT

Affiliation: HIU


Marella de Bruijn is interested in the developmental programme which creates haematopoietic stem cells from haemogenic endothelium. Insight into this process will guide the design of new strategies to generate or expand stem cells for transplantation. In particular she studies the key factor involved in setting up the HSC lineage, Runx1. Importantly, this gene is mutated in 25% of human leukaemias and insight into the factors controlled by Runx1 during HSC generation provide a benchmark for how this network may be perturbed in leukaemia.

Supported by MRC and Wiezmann-UK joint research project grant

Affiliation: MHU


Tao Dong runs an outreach programme, with collaborators in the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing You'an ID hospital, Beijing Capital Medical University  and the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, studying T cell responses and clinical outcome in patients with common viral infections (Influenza, HIV, HCV and HBV). Her aim is to stratify these infectious diseases and develop new vaccines and therapeutic strategies based on her observations.

Industrial Collaborations: Janssen Pharmaceutical, Shanghai Discovery Centre

Supported by MRC, EU FP7, WT, NSF China.

Affiliation: HIU


Hal Drakesmith’s group is studying the hormone hepcidin which controls the level of iron in the body, broadly analogous to how insulin regulates glucose. He has established large clinical outreach studies in the UK, Africa and Sri Lanka to measure hepcidin in the context of anemia, thalassemia and infectious diseases (malaria, HIV-1, HCV) to use hepcidin to diagnose and stratify patients for appropriate iron supplementation. Investigating hepcidin regulation has led to an unexpected discovery that some hepcidin-regulatory pathways also possess antiviral and interferon enhancing properties. As a result new small molecule are being developed as broadly acting antivirals to synergise with current therapies.

Member of BRC Blood Theme

Supported by MRC HIU, NIH, CORE, Rosetrees Trust, Oxford Invention Fund, RCF, Gates Foundation

Affiliation: HIU


Christian Eggeling is a world leader in cellular imaging (advanced optical microscopy, specifically optical super-resolution microscopy and nanoscopy, scientific director Wolfson Imaging Centre Oxford) and is collaborating with many groups in the WIMM who are directly studying human diseases in the immune, haematopoietic and stem cell themes, as well as with multiple institutes within University of Oxford (Biochemistry, Wellcome Trust Centre of Human Genetics, Dunn School of Pathology, Physics, Chemistry).

Industrial collaborations with Leica Microsystems, Olympus, Zeiss, Abberior Instruments, Picoquant, New England Biolabs, Promega, Miltenyi Biotech and Evotec.

Supported by MRC, EMBO, Marie-Curie, BBSRC, MRC/EPSRC/BBSRC, WT

Affiliation: HIU


Lars Fugger is a clinical immunologist with a special interest in multiple sclerosis. His aim is to understand the underlying pathophysiology of this common neurological disease using a genetic approach and to use this information to develop more refined therapeutic strategies for this disease.

Member of BRC Theme Immunology

Supported by MRC and WT

Affiliation:  HIU/NSG


Tudor Fulga’s group is focused on understanding the role played by microRNAs in human diseases, using high-throughput genetic approaches and sophisticated genome engineering technologies. In addition, they are interested in repurposing RNA functionality to develop innovative microRNA-based synthetic devices for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. This team is also at the forefront of developing genome editing in the WIMM and a crucial aspect of our future proposals in this area. The group has established a wide range of collaborations throughout the WIMM to apply their technology platforms to important human disease studies (e.g. cancer, developmental disorders, viral infection).

Industrial Collaboartion: with New England Biolabs RNA research division

Supported by MRC, BBSRC and NDM/WT Research Fund

Affiliation:  WIMM Fellow


Richard Gibbons is a clinical geneticist who studies inherited and acquired diseases which work primarily via their effect on the epigenetic programme and in particular  chromatin structure and function. Most importantly this group studies the chromatin associated factor ATRX which plays a key role in human development, influences erythropoiesis and has recently been shown to be an important tumour suppressor mutated in a variety of malignant tumours.

International reference centre for diagnosis of ATRX Syndrome

Chair of WIMM Genomics Group

Industrial Collaboration with Nanopore

Supported by MRC, Daphne Jackson Foundation, Commonwealth Scholarship

Affiliation: MHU


Anne Goriely is interested in elucidating the process by which spontaneous mutations are acquired in the human genome and the factors (such as paternal age) that influence their occurrence. By combining classical genetic methods with state-of-the-art next-generation sequencing technologies, they have studied specific point mutations directly in human sperm and testes, allowing them to discover a novel genetic mechanism called ‘selfish spermatogonial selection’. This process, which affects all men as they age, is anticipated to be associated with an increased risk of transmission of pathogenic alleles and to be a significant contributor to human disease, genome diversity and evolution. This work, which is anticipated to be particularly pertinent in ageing reproductive populations, has influenced policy on the upper age limit for semen donation.

Supported by WT, SFARI

Affiliation CG


Adrian Harris is a medical oncologist (OUHS) with a research-based clinical practice in breast cancer and associated scientific laboratory. The main aim of his work is to improve the treatment of cancers by discovering new pathways of blood vessel development [angigogenesis] using molecular biology and bioinformatic techniques, then use these as targets for new drugs to block them. In a synergistic approach he is interested in the effects of hypoxia, induced by blocking angiogenesis, on the metabolism of tumour cells. He is also studying changes in many other biochemical pathways in human breast cancers, altered in hypoxia, using new methods to sequence RNA. He aims to find out how these help tumours to adapt, and how they may be targeted to generate much greater effects against the cancer in combination therapy.

Joint Leader of BRC Cancer Theme

Supported by CRUK and EU Metoxia, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Marie Curie Foundation

Affiliation:  Mol Onc


Doug Higgs is an honorary consultant haematologist (OUHS), Director of the MRC MHU and Director of the WIMM. The basic research in this lab uses haematopoiesis as a model to understand how genes are switched on and off during development and differentiation. This is fully integrated with a clinical programme to improve the diagnosis and management of patients with common forms of anaemia, including thalassaemia, via an extensive international network of collaborators.

Co-leader of BRC blood theme


Affiliation: MHU


Ling-Pei Ho is a consultant physician in Respiratory Medicine (Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust) and a PI within the WIMM. She leads the Lung Immunology Group, with two areas of research: first, basic studies on how immune responses are controlled in the lungs to prevent lung injury and fibrosis; second, translation of this work to understand  disease mechanisms, to improve patient stratification, and to discover targets for new therapies for sarcoidosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Academic Lead for the NIHR-led Translational Research Partnership (TRP).

Member of BRC Immunology Theme

Industrial collaboration with Takeda plc. and UCB

Supported by WT, HEFCE, NIHR BRC, Oxford UCB, Takeda, ISIS Innovation

Affiliation: HIU


Georg Hollander’s group is interested in the development and function of the thymus, and, specifically, how recessive and dominant T Cell tolerance is normally effected. A precise understanding of the process of promiscuous gene expression in the thymus will help in devising strategies to manipulate central immunological tolerance in the context of autoimmunity, tissue transplantation and tumour immunology. 

Member of BRC Immunology

Supported by OBRC, John Fell OUP Research Fund, EU 7th Research Framework, NIH, Swiss National Science Foundation 

Affiliation:  Paeds


Jim Hughes is interested in genome biology and in understanding how cis-elements interact to control gene expression during differentiation and development. In collaboration with groups in the MHU they use haematopoiesis as a model to address this question and develop new experimental tools and appropriate computational science to analyse large datasets. They are currently interested in using newly developed chromosome capture assays to determine how SNPs identified in GWAS studies predispose to common diseases. 

Collaborates with IDT and Nanopore

Supported by MRC

Affiliation: MHU


Valentina Iotchkova is a mathematician/statistician by training with experience in large-scale analyses of quantitative genetic variation and relevant statistical method development (e.g. multivariate association analysis, missing value imputation, functional enrichment analysis).

Valentina’s current interests lie in the development and application of new computational and statistical approaches aimed at utilizing high-dimensional datasets in biology and medicine to their full potential (e.g. by integration across different layers of information). In particular, she is keen to develop methodological advancements to accelerate the discovery and interpretation of multidimensional phenotypic consequences of common and rare genetic variation as well as to use genetic information to infer direction of causality between different layers of phenotypic information.




David Jackson’s research is aimed at understanding how the various leukocyte populations involved in antigen presentation, antigen recognition and phagocytosis navigate the lymphatic vessels to shape immune responses and regulate inflammation, and how cancer cells hijack the system to spread to lymph nodes while at the same time avoiding immune destruction. The research is also aimed at understanding how pathogens including bacteria and viruses exploit and manipulate the lymphatic vasculature for survival and dissemination. A major focus s on molecular mechanisms and how the matrix glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan on the surface of migrating leucocytes and tumour cells and in the capsule of virulent streptococci mediates events via its specific receptors in lymphoid tissue. Ultimately the aim is to identify new targets to manipulate lymphatic trafficking for therapeutic benefit. 

Supported by MRC

Affiliation: HIU


Sten Eirik Jacobsen is the Bass Chair of Stem Cell Biology and his group is interested in the identity and regulation of blood stem cells and how these normally undergo self-renewal and lineage commitment during embryonic development and in adult hematopoiesis. They also study how these processes are perturbed in myelodysplasia (particularly the 5q- syndrome), childhood leukaemia and adult leukaemia. Their aim is to identify the dysregulated pathways and precise cells that drive the leukaemic process and to eradicate these while preserving normal haematopoietic stem cell function.

BRC Blood theme

Industrial Collaborations: Celgene, Fluidigm

Supported by MRC, LLR, Marie Curie, Swedish Research Council

Affiliation:  HSBC


Hashem Koohy is a computational biologist and interested in applying machine learning, statistical inference and integrative analysis of high throughput sequencing data. He is very keen to further understand the functional and molecular mechanisms of the immune systems in various immunologically important biological systems such as disease (infection, autoimmune and cancer) and aging as well as effectiveness of vaccines under these conditions. Hashem is specialized in analysing large-scale genomics and epigenomics data, in particular ATAC-Seq (chromatin accessibility, footprinting and nucleosome positioning) in the field of functional genomics and transcriptional regulation. Hashem’s current main interest is focused on B- and T-cell receptor profiling, characterization of TCR specificity and identification of neo-antigens.



Peter McHugh this lab studies the mechanisms underlying genome stability in normal cells and those with predisposition to cancer, focussing on diseases with a greatly elevated risk of developing haematological and other malignancies (Fanconi anaemia and Xeroderma Pigmentosum). Using these models they are identifying drug targets that mediate chemo- and radio-resistance in cancer.

Industrial collaborations; Selvita Pharmaceuticals

Supported by MRC, CR-UK and member of the Oxford ECMC

Affiliation:  Mol Onc


Adam Mead is a clinical haematologist with an interest in myeloid neoplasms. His research programme in the MHU is focused on the identification and genetic modelling of leukaemic and pre-leukaemic stem cells in myeloid malignancies in order to understand how these cells might be more effectively targeted and eradicated. Adam also leads the Haematology Clinical Research Team and has an active clinical research programme.

Member of BRC Blood Theme

Collaborates with Novartis

Supported by MRC, LLR, Kay Kendall Leukaemia fund and Novartis

Affiliation:  HSCB


Thomas Milne studies the epigenetic programme in haematopoiesis and in particular how this programme is perturbed in haematopoietic stem cells carrying fusions with the histone methyl-transferase (Mixed Lineage Leukaemia, MLL). Patients with leukaemia caused by these fusions have a poor prognosis and do not respond well to conventional therapy. These leukaemias also provide a useful model for studying general epigenetic changes in acute leukaemias. This work is directed to finding new targets for combination chemotherapy in these and other types of acute leukaemia.

Member of BRC Blood Theme

Industrial collaboration: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) via the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) and a direct collaboration with AstraZeneca.

Supported by the MRC

Affiliation: MHU


Ed Morrissey is a theoretical physicist by training who is interested in using quantitative approaches to understand the dynamics of cell fate, both in adult and developing tissue. Quantitative models of cell dynamics allow us to better understand how tissues work, how mutations spread through these tissues, as well as offering a platform to better understand the molecular networks driving these dynamics. In addition to cell dynamics modelling, Ed works on developing computational and statistical tools necessary to match said models to high-throughput assays and imaging data.

Supported by MRC

Affiliation: WIMM Fellow in Computational Biology


Claus Nerlov’s lab use genetic methods, combined with population and single cell-based genome-wide gene expression analysis to study hematopoietic stem cells, the niches that maintain them, as well as changes in stem cells and their niches during aging. They also model how stem cell mutations result in acute myeloid leukemia, and address how the leukemic stem cells responsible for the disease are maintained, in order to target them pharmacologically. This group works closely with clinicians in the MHU to develop new approaches to the management of patients with leukaemia.

Supported by MRC, IACR and LLR

Affiliation: MHU


Chris Newbold is a world leader in understanding how antigenic variation in the malarial parasite evolves to escape the immune system and how parasites develop resistance to commonly used drugs. This group studies how the parasite interacts both with red blood cells and immune cells to cause tissue damage. They propose that a detailed understanding of antigenic variation in the parasite will help in the search for small molecule inhibitors to arrest chronic infection. This group plays an important role in the large WT tropical clinical network working towards developing new treatments for malaria.

Supported by WT and EU framework 7

Affiliation: MP


Graham Ogg is a clinical Professor of Dermatology (OUHS). The aim of the group is to understand, at the molecular and cellular level, the role of human cutaneous immune responses in disease (particularly eczema), treatment and vaccination. As well as contributing to an understanding of disease pathogenesis, they are actively involved in translating their discoveries via early phase clinical trials.

Member of BRC sub-theme leader Immunity theme of the BRC and is Thames Valley Chairman of the Dermatology CLRN. 

Industrial collaborations: Janssen pharmaceuticals

Supported by MRC, BRC, BMA and British Skin Foundation

Affiliation: HIU


Roger Patient is an internationally renowned developmental biologist with particular interest in studying early fate decisions as the mesoderm differentiates into the cardiac and haematopoietic programmes. The work of this laboratory is highly relevant to the programming of stem cells and how this may be harnessed in the reprogramming and expansion of such cells for potential use in regenerative medicine.

Supported by MRC, BHF, WT and BBSRC

Affiliation: MHU


Catherine Porchers laboratory concentrates on the key haematopoietic transcription factor SCL/TAL1 which is mutated in 60% of childhood T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemias (T-ALL). In collaboration with crystallographers at STRUBI, they have solved many aspects of the structure of the SCL complex (SCL, E47, LDB1 and LMO2 bound to DNA) with the views to developing new drugs that may be used in the clinical management of these disorders. Using ES cells, this lab is also interested in developing protocols for haematopoietic stem cell production and expansion, for implementation in transplantation clinics. 

Member of BRC Haematology Theme

Supported by MRC, LLR and BBSRC

Affiliation: MHU


Terence Rabbitts' group are interested in using new techniques developed in their lab to identify novel therapy targets on the cells that initiate cancers, particularly haematopoietic cancers (leukaemias) and sarcomas. They are characterising the proteins expressed on the surface of such cells as targets for eradication of the cancer initiating cells. They are also establishing new technologies to target protein-protein interactions inside cells using single domain antibody fragments as drug surrogates for target validation and using the binding sites of the single domains as templates for small molecule drug development. Parallel studies with lipid and polymer nanoparticles, as carriers of single domain expression vectors, are under way to deliver these molecules (macrodrugs) in vivo for therapy.

Member of BRC Haematology Theme

Industrial collaborations:  Medimmune and Precision Nanosystems

Supported by MRC, WT, LLR and EPSRC

Affiliation: MHU


Jan Rehwinkel’s research is directed towards understanding the molecular biology underlying the activation and regulation of cytosolic nucleic acid sensors, during both virus infection and in inflammatory diseases. Our findings will have major implications for virus infection, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and the development of vaccine adjuvants.

Supported by MRC, WT, EMBO, MRF, CGAT

Affiliation: HIU


Irene Roberts is a paediatric haematologist. Her group study how blood formation develops throughout fetal life. This in turn is highly relevant to why chidren with Down syndrome develop a transient abnormal form of myelopoiesis and often progress to acute myeloid leukaemia.  This situation provides a very compelling model for the development of cancer, in general. The aim is to determine which children with Down syndrome will develop acute myeloid leukaemia and how best to treat them with minimal toxicity.

Member of BRC Blood Theme

Supported by LLR, KKLF, WT,Children with Cancer and NIHR

Affiliation:  Paeds


Kathryn Robson works with various collaborators in the WIMM and the NHS to investigate the mechanisms underlying inherited conditions associated with iron overload and consequent toxicity. In most cases,  accurate and early diagnosis avoids life-threatening tissue damage. As a UK reference centre of excellence for these disorders, this work significantly drives improved diagnosis and treatment patients with iron overload throughout the UK.

Member of BRC Blood Theme

Supported by NIHR

Affiliation:  WIMM


Aleksandr Sahakyan's research targets genomics and genome dynamics through the development of highly quantitative methods for defining structure and dynamics of (epi)genome, gene regulatory pathways, involved macromolecules and their interaction networks. He is interested in combining computational biology, advanced predictive modelling (i.e. machine learning), computational chemistry, experimental genomic and biophysical techniques to reach a new level of precision in systems biology at both genome and proteome levels.

Supported by MRC

Affiliation: WIMM


Tatjana Sauka-Spengler’s group is highly innovative and introduces many new technical approaches to genetic and genomic questions in the WIMM. Their own research studies how unique neural crest cells maintain their multipotency and specify to produce an extraordinarily wide range of cell types and tissues during embryonic development. They are also tackling regulatory interactions underlying early steps of neural crest formation to understand how transcriptional and epigenetic networks go awry in patients with craniofacial abnormalities and heart defects. The group is using genome and epigenome editing to develop new means to activate neural crest regulatory programme in human embryonic stem cells, with an aim of developing new routes for therapeutic interventions in neurocristopathies. In addition they are investigating potential shared mechanisms that control epithelial to mesenchymal transition during neural crest development and in neural crest-derived tumours like melanoma.

Supported by MRC, Lister Institute, March of Dimes, Oxford Cancer Research Institute, Ovarian Cancer Initiative, John Fell Fund and BHF Centre for Research Excellence.

Affiliation:  WIMM Fellow


Alison Simmons’ group study mechansims of innate immune sensing in infection and inflammatory disease.This includes the defining the molecular function of innate immune receptors such as NOD2 in protection  against microbes and in susceptibility to Crohn's disease. Their work integrates detailed in-vitro examination of the cellular and molecular pathways that are abnormally regulated in Crohn's disease and clinical observation of a large cohort (~2,500) of affected patients. Therefore, by developing a better understanding of the pathophysiology of these relatively common auto-immune diseases, they are identifying new targets for new and re-purposed therapy.

Member of BRC Immunology Theme

Industrial collaboration: UCB, Lilly.

Grants: MRC, Wellcome Trust, NIHR, Lee Placito, Marie Curie, Jules Thorn Trust

Affiliation: HIU


Katja Simon is working on the role of autophagy in disease. In the area of haemtology this group addresses how changes in autophagy in haematopoietic stem cells may predispose to the development of myelodysplasia and leukaemia. Her lab also studies how the changes in autophagy associated with ageing in T cells alters the response to vaccination and infection. Her lab discovered an autophagy-inducing compound that improves the response to influenza and influenza vaccine in the elderly.

Group Leader in the MRC Human Immunology Unit and

Head of the Translational Immunology Lab, Immunity and Inflammation theme

Supported by BMRC, MRC, Kidney Research UK, WT, NDM, NSERCanada/Lady Tata Trust

Affiliation: HIU


Andrew Smith is renowned for his contributions to chromosome engineering of mouse and human stem cells. He is highly innovative and provides the knowledge and expertise for a large proportion of groups taking such approaches in the WIMM.  An important aim of his work is to develop models of human disease in the mouse and in human stem-like cells (ES and iPS). An extension of this work in the future will be to try to use these models as experimental platforms for testing drug efficacy, with particular focus on new epigenetic modifying drugs. In addition he is also using genetically modified human ES and iPS cells with the ultimate aim of deriving purer populations of defined differentiated cell types for potential clinical application.

Supported by MRC

Affiliation: MHU


Alain Townsend is an immunologist whose current work is focused on his hypothesis that heterotypic immunity (between pandemic A strains of influenza) can be induced in humans with non-replicating live attenuated strains of influenza, based on inactivation of the HA signal sequence. The idea is to mitigate the first wave of pandemic infection prior to the production of a subunit vaccine. His group collaborates with Prof Tao Dong, Prof Xingwang Li (Beijing Ditan Hospital), and Dr Arthur Huang (Chang Gung Children’s Hospital, Taiwan) to isolate neutralising human monoclonal antibodies to potential pandemic strains including H5N1 and H7N9, that could be used as therapy.

Support via BRC Immunology theme

Industrial collaborations: MedImmune

Supported by MRC (HIU) Townsend-Jeantet Prize Trust

Affiliation:  MI


Paresh Vyas's group studies patients with Myelodysplasia and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. In particular they aim to identify the cells that are responsible for initiating and maintaining the tumour and to understand the mechanisms that cause acquired mutations to perturb haematopoiesis in these disorders. This group is working to improve and stratify the diagnosis using new biomarkers, to improve the management by monitoring residual leukaemia stem cells and to improve therapy leading an international clinical trial using anti CD47 antibodies.

Co-theme leader of BRC  Blood Theme

Collaborates with Fluidigm, Becton Dickinson, Celgene, Novartis, 

Supported by LLR, MRC, CRUK, WT, BRC

Affiliation: MHU


Andrew Wilkie’s group are the world’s leading group studying patients with craniofacial abnormalities. They have established the pathways responsible for morphogenesis of the face and skull by finding genetic mutations in patients with abnormal development of these structures. This in turn is transforming the diagnosis and management of this group of patients and their families. Based on these genetic studies they have also delineated a novel genetic mechanism for the paternal age effect of new mutations, which has influenced policy on the upper age limit for semen donation, and is currently informing new strategies for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis.

Co-Theme Leader of BRC Genomic Medicine Theme

Supported by WT, NIHR Oxford BRC

Affiliation: CG


Prof Sir David Weatherall's major research areas include the genetic, adaptive and environmental factors that modify the phenotype of common forms of thalasaemia in Asia, notably HbE beta thalassaemia, the population genetics of the thalassaemis with particular respect to varying susceptibility to malaria, and the development of partnerships between countries with and without expertise for the improved avoidance and management of the thalassaemias in Asian countries.


HIU = Human Immunology Unit
MHU = Molecular Haematology Unit
Mol Onc = Molecular Oncology
WF = WIMM MRC Fellow
DI = Developmental Immunology
HSCB – Haematopoietic Stem Cell Biology
NSG – Neurosciences Group
CG – Clinical Genetics
MP – Molecular Parasitology