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Project leader: Dr Adam Handel, NIHR CL in Neurology

During his clinical lectureship, Adam will be using functional genomics methods to understand neuroimmunological conditions. His particular focus will be on applying recently developed single-cell genomics approaches to immune-mediated demyelinating diseases, such as neuromyelitis optica and multiple sclerosis.

Single-cell methods are ideally suited for studying the biology of extremely heterogeneous populations of cells, as exemplified by T-cells in the case of autoimmunity; these provide read-outs of cellular functions in individual cells rather than averaging over a large number of cells. This will enable Adam to identify novel mechanisms of disease.

During his DPhil, Adam focused on molecular mechanisms in thymic development and function, with a particular focus on tissue restricted antigen expression. He will apply similar approaches to study the role thymic tolerance plays in central nervous system autoimmunity. The role of the thymus in these conditions has not yet been extensively explored.

Adam’s hope would be that this research may identify novel pathways in autoimmune diseases affecting the central nervous system, which could provide attractive therapeutic options.

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September 2018