Project Title: Identification of cell types underlying genomic evolution in primates and how this relates to genetic risk for brain disorders 
Supervisors:  Dr Nathan Skene, Professor Steve Gentleman, Dr Sarah Marzi 
Location: Sir Michael Uren Hub, White City Campus

About Me

During my undergraduate degree I was fortunate enough to spend a year at the University of Melbourne, where I took the Principles of Neuroscience module. With each lecture being vastly different but just as interesting to the last, I soon realised I would never be bored as a neuroscientist. As a result, I returned to King’s and specialised in neuroscience during my final year. 

Before graduating I also had the opportunity to complete a year in industry, during which I explored experimental therapies for sepsis and type 2 diabetes in small animal models at The William Harvey Research Institute in London. After graduating I worked as a research technician in the gut signalling and metabolism lab at LMS, where I investigated the role and regulation of a putative intestinal glucose sensor in murine pregnancy and lactation. 

In 2019 I was awarded a 4.5 year MRC DTP Studentship. Having gained experience in the lab, I then wanted to understand how I could apply computational techniques to continue addressing scientific questions. As part of my studentship I completed the MRes in Experimental Neuroscience, during which I undertook three computational projects in comparative genomics, Alzheimer’s disease epigenomics, and Parkinson’s disease genomics. 

I am now a PhD student in the neurogenomics lab. If my head isn’t buried in my laptop, then I’m either cooking or eating.


2020-present: PhD Clinical Medical Research, Imperial College London (expected 2024)

2019-2020: MRes Experimental Neuroscience, Imperial College London

2014-2018: BSc Biomedical Science with extramural year, King’s College London 

Research Interests 

In order to further our understanding of the evolution of the human brain and it’s unique properties such as neural disease susceptibility, it may be necessary to study it in relation to our closest living relatives – primates. I am integrating transcriptomic, epigenomic, and primate genomic data to identify the cell types underlying genomic evolution in primates, and how this relates to genetic risk for complex brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. To achieve this, my project will apply phylogenomic and machine learning approaches, as well as epigenomic profiling of brain cell types from human post-mortem brain tissue. 

Selected publications

Collotta, D., Hull, W., Mastrocola, R., Chiazza, F., Cento, A. S., Murphy, C., Verta, R., Alves, G. F., Gaudioso, G., Fava, F., Yaqoob, M., Aragno, M., Tuohy, K., Thiemermann, C., & Collino, M. (2020). Baricitinib counteracts metaflammation, thus protecting against diet-induced metabolic abnormalities in mice. Molecular metabolism39, 101009.

Al Zoubi, S., Chen, J., Murphy, C., Martin, L., Chiazza, F., Collotta, D., Yaqoob, M. M., Collino, M., & Thiemermann, C. (2018). Linagliptin Attenuates the Cardiac Dysfunction Associated With Experimental Sepsis in Mice With Pre-existing Type 2 Diabetes by Inhibiting NF-κB. Frontiers in immunology9, 2996.

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