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Contact


Professor Miriam Moffat
Lead academic
+44 (0)20 7594 2942
m.moffatt@imperial.ac.uk

Find out about our MSc Genomic Medicine

What we do

The Genomic Medicine Section investigates the application of genetic and genomic technologies to the study of diseases of human epithelial surfaces. In the lung these include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and lung and pleural cancers. In the skin we are interested in eczema and psoriasis. A significant proportion of our research is focused on the epithelial cells of the lung (airway mucosa) in health and disease.  We also have a significant interest in sensory epithelial cells (those of the ear) that are key for hearing and balance; and in skin epithelial cells (keratinocytes).  We wish to identify all of the common genetic variants underlying these diseases. We also wish to use genomics to discover the global picture of gene and protein expression by cells implicated in airway disease. 

Why it is important

Common lung diseases with an infective component such as pneumonia, asthma and COPD affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Pneumonia and COPD are amongst the leading cause of death in every country. The treatment of lung infections with antibiotics is a primary driver of antibiotic resistance in human populations. We are therefore carrying out advanced research into the bacteria, fungi and viruses that inhabit healthy and diseased lungs (known collectively as the lung microbiome). We are systematically characterising the pulmonary microbiome through culture, isolation, and sequencing of all significant commensal and pathogenic bacterial species from the lower airways and lung. We aim to improve therapy for lung infections by better diagnosis, by understanding of the effects of antibiotics on the whole microbial community, and by finding new treatments.

Lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma are devastating illnesses with few effective treatments and poor outcomes. Our section leads collaborative research with The Royal Brompton Hospital and The Royal Marsden Hospital that is improving the diagnosis and identifying new targets for treating lung and pleural cancers.

Research Impact

We carry out investigations which enhance interactions between basic laboratory research and patients with severe lung diseases treated at the Royal Brompton Hospital. Highlights include the landmark genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for asthma, the first analysis of the psoriasis transcriptome, development of target genomic capture (leading to exome sequencing), identification of the first metastatic cancer gene, the application of genomics to regenerative epithelia, and leading studies of the airway microbiome. We support exceptional young researchers and innovative research to develop an infrastructure that will lead to growth in new areas of research.

Summary of current research

  • Application of state-of-art genetic and genomic approaches to investigate the major genetic asthma locus (chromosome 17q13) containing the genes ORMDL3 and GSDMB.  
  • The molecular genetic and genomic alterations that lead to mesothelioma.
  • Molecular alterations leading to uveal melanoma and the specific changes that lead to metastasis.
  • Examining the functional consequences of mutations in CARD14 that we showed previously lead to psoriasis, and developing murine models that mimic the human disease.
  • Investigating the key epigenetic and transcriptional regulators of ear sensory epithelial regeneration with a view to treating deafness and balance disorders.
  • Using sequencing and analytical pipelines to examine bacterial, mycobacterial and fungal communities from a wide range of lung conditions.
  • Genomic and epigenetic studies to include lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.

Read more about our research in detail

Connections

Related centres

Asmarley Centre for Genomic Medicine

Incorporated within the Genomic Medicine Section is the Asmarley Centre for Genomic Medicine. Core funding from the Asmarley Trust allows the Centre to bring state of the art genomic technology and expertise to the study of a number of lung diseases.  Professor Bill Cookson is the holder of the Asmarley Chair in Genomic Medicine.

National Centre for Mesothelioma Research

Professor Cookson and Professors Bowcock and Moffatt are all Principal Investigators within the National Centre for Mesothelioma Research (NCMR).  Collaborative science is a key feature of this Centre, with a shared goal of discovery research into mechanisms underlying growth of malignant cells in mesothelioma. The Centre aims to identify novel targets for therapy and accompanying diagnostics for accurate patient stratification.

Study and teaching

Members of the section play active roles in teaching on the BSc in Respiratory Science and a number of MScs offered by Imperial College London including the:

The section is particularly involved in the MSc in Genomic Medicine (a new innovative program) having previously run the short course in Genomic Medicine. The Course Director of the MSc in Genomic Medicine is section Principal Investigator Professor Michael Lovett.   

Meetings


Within the section there are PhD students, including clinical research fellows, and post-doctoral scientists from many countries.  As the section covers a diverse range of interests, but with the common theme of application of state of the art omic technologies, we have weekly Research-in-Progress meetings for the section to educate and inform all members. Mentoring and student supervision are of upmost importance to the section as are the goals of Athena SWAN.

For patients

For further information on mesothelioma visit Mesothelioma UK


Our researchers