Miriam Moffatt is Professor of Respiratory Genetics at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. Professor Moffatt obtained her BSc Honours Degree in Microbiology from the University of Reading in 1988. After graduating she took up an administrative post working for the Society for General Microbiology (http://www.sgm.ac.uk/) as Research Assistant to the Professional Affairs Officer. Her love of working at the bench resulted in her returning to laboratory science at the end of 1989 when she joined the Asthma Genetics Group within the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.
She attained her doctorate (DPhil) on the Genetics of Asthma in 1994 after which she became a Research Lecturer and subsequently Reader in Genetics at the University. In 2005, after sixteen years in Oxford, she and Professor Bill Cookson moved their research team to the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College. In 2008 Professor Moffatt was awarded a Personal Chair in Respiratory Genetics.
Professor Moffatt has worked for 24 years in the field of genetics focusing on the allergic diseases, asthma and atopic dermatitis with her research partner Professor Cookson and their team. Together they have investigated the genetic mechanisms underlying asthma using candidate gene and positional cloning approaches and most recently genome wide association studies (GWAS). Their landmark GWAS study of 1,000 cases of childhood asthma and 1,000 controls identified the ORMDL3 locus on chromosome 17q21, which is now recognised to be the strongest and most consistent genetic association to childhood asthma. In 2010 they coordinated the GABRIEL GWAS for asthma that involved 26,000 people and resulted in the identification of genetic variants that substantially increase susceptibility to asthma in the population. Professors Moffatt and Cookson have in addition conducted extensive investigations focused on gene expression, mapping single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) genome wide to the expression of more than 20,500 genes.
Because of the importance of mucosal immunity in asthma, Professors Moffatt and Cookson have initiated studies characterizing the airway microbiome of the normal healthy lung as well as that seen in a variety of key respiratory diseases including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis.
Professor Moffatt is now coordinating with Professor Kathleen Barnes (John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland) a collaborative Transnational Asthma Genetics Consortium (TAGC) bringing Genome Wide Association Studies from all over the world together and completing a meta-analysis for asthma on over 30,000 cases and 50,000 controls.
Professor Moffatt is a Principal Investigator in the Medical Research Council/Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma as well as being Head of the Molecular Genetics and Genomics Section and Institute Lead for Postdocs at the NHLI. She sits on the research committee of Asthma UK.
At the end of 2011 Professor Moffatt and Professor Cookson were the first recipients to be awarded Joint Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Awards (Wellcome Trust News Issue 70 Spring 2012). This award will enable them to continue to use the latest genetic and genomic tools to uncover the basic mechanisms that cause childhood asthma. Their aim is to translate this knowledge into new treatments for patients with respiratory disease.
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