Anne Goriely is an Associate Professor of Human Genetics at the Radcliffe Department of Medicine. Her award will support a research programme focusing on a process called selfish selection, promoting clonal expansion of pathogenic de novo mutations in human testes/male germline. De novo mutations are widely thought to occur randomly. However, the group has challenged this assumption by showing that so-called selfish mutations are able to hijack the cellular control of male germline stem cells in which they arise, leading to their preferential transmission to the next generation. The Goriely group will use state-of-the-art technology to assess the significance of selfish selection for human disease and genome evolution.
Alison Simmons is a Professor of Gastroenterology at the Nuffield Department of Medicine and MRC Human Immunology Unit, and was recently elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. The Simmons lab works on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a debilitating condition that affects more than 300,000 people in the UK. In IBD, the protective barrier that separates gut luminal microbes from the mucosal immune system is disrupted, leading to inflammation. Recently, the group used single cell technologies to chart the diverse cell types making up the gut mucosal barrier, uncovering new cell types and key pathways of barrier defence. The new Wellcome Investigator Award will define the relationships and signalling between these myriad cell types of the barrier and explore how these can be harnessed to promote intestinal health.