New training opportunities for our WTISSF Fellows

Appointments have been made across all three Colleges. With this Fellowship scheme we will focus support on the  transition to independence and leadership, as well as providing cohort training and transferable skills; we will enhance our culture of discovery-led research and create a sustainable model at Leicester for training the next generation of research leaders and embedding enterprise skills and interdisciplinary ways of working.

The majority of these appointments are focussed around the four priority areas for the Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF:

Current cohort:

Precision Medicine

Ranjit Arnold

Ranjit is a post-doctoral research fellow and Cardiologist. He completed his clinical training in Cardiology in Oxford and a DPhil in Cardiovascular Medicine in the University of Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research. His primary interest is in the application of cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease and the evaluation of its therapy. He is extending this work as a Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow, investigating the potential role of CMR perfusion imaging in diagnosing and risk stratifying patients with suspected coronary disease.

Mrinal Das

Mrinal received his PhD from the University of Delhi, India. His work focused on the structural and functional analysis of novel plant proteins with therapeutic potential. Post PhD, he gained experience in research administration at an Indian Government agency as a Programme/Grant Officer. Having identified his desire to continue active research he joined the Biomarker team at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, India, where his research aim was to identify metabolite-based markers for early diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB). Looking to broaden his skills and experience he joined Professor Andrea Cooper’s Lab at the University of Leicester as a Royal Society Newton International Fellow in March 2017 with the aim of unveiling immune-metabolic cross-talk in TB using the animal infection model. He will continue to work with professor Cooper as he pursues his WTISSF early career fellowship. In the WTISSF fellowship tenure, Mrinal will utilise his mass spectrometry skills to identify novel drug metabolites of TB drugs used in multi-drug resistance cases with the eventual goal of monitoring drug adherence and decision making in development of personalised TB drug delivery.

Jo Purves

Jo is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Genetics and Genome Biology. After completing a PhD in microbial genetics here at Leicester in 2010, her research since has focused on how bacteria respond to changes in their environment and the influence this has on their interaction with a host and their ability to cause disease. Her most recent work looks at how exposure to air pollution changes the behaviour of the pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Jo is branching out from this work with her Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF to develop a new infection model to measure the impact of air pollution on bacterial growth within lung tissue. She will be specifically investigating species associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to better understand the factors that influence this complex disease.

Mariaelena Repici (now Honorary Research Fellow)

Mariaelena is interested in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to neuronal death and neurodegeneration in central nervous system diseases. In this context, the Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowship will allow her to better inform the mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease by elucidating the cellular functions of DJ-1 – a protein linked to rare inherited forms of Parkinson’s. This work may ultimately provide insight into novel therapeutic strategies for this disorder.

Joshua Vande Hey

Joshua completed a PhD in optical engineering of atmospheric sensors at Loughborough University in 2013.  Since coming to Leicester that year, he has gradually moved from optics and sensor engineering to working with environmental and health data.  Alongside his Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF interdisciplinary research fellowship on health effects of short term variations in weather and air pollution, he holds a NERC knowledge exchange fellowship entitled Aerosol Science for Public Health and Public Policy through Commercial Avenues.  He is currently collaborating with the University of Nairobi to develop air pollution monitoring, health impact assessment and mitigation strategies in Kenya, with Cerner UK, Ltd on the Environmental Population Health Informatics pilot project, and with the ALSPAC cohort on the NERC-MRC ERICA project on environmental resources for cohort studies.

Ethnic Health and Migration

Chiara Batini

With a background in human evolutionary genetics at the University of Leicester, Chiara’s research has focused on the role of culture, sex-biased behaviours and climate in shaping the evolution of human populations in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Chiara will now expand her research interests to phenotypes of clinical relevance and genetic epidemiology approaches. In this context, Chiara will use her Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowship, to study the genetic architecture of smoking behaviour in individuals of European, African and Asian ancestries using UK Biobank data.

Claire Lawson

Claire is a clinical epidemiologist, lecturer and cardiology nurse. Her NIHR doctoral fellowship undertaken at Keele University focused on the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, heart failure, comorbidity and patient-centred outcomes in primary care and hospital-based settings. She is interested in statistical modelling of longitudinal data with time-varying exposures as well as health informatics. Claire will extend this work in a new direction as a Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow to investigate cardiovascular risk factor trends and aetiological mechanisms in black and minority ethnic (BME) groups. This project will be supported by the East Midlands Centre for BME Health that is based within the Leicester Diabetes Centre, a joint research collaboration between the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

New Health Agendas in The Social Sciences and Humanities

Eva Krockow

With a background in the Psychology of judgment and decision making, Eva’s research interests lie in the application of decision-making theory to health-related decisions of doctors and patients. Most recently, she conducted research on antibiotic prescribing decisions of hospital doctors in the UK, South Africa and Sri Lanka. The project used social dilemma theory from the fields of Psychology and Economics to model challenges affecting the optimisation of antibiotic use. Eva hopes to build on this research during her Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowship. She will explore the concept of the “Wisdom of Crowds” in the context of antibiotic prescribing and discuss whether collective intelligence could help to optimise antibiotic use. Through a research visit at the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development in Berlin she will also continue to develop international research partnerships, with the ultimate aim of designing a multi-centre research proposal for an intervention study targeting antibiotic overprescribing.

Relevant links


Imogen Wiltshire

Imogen is an art historian specialising in twentieth-century art. She first joined the University of Leicester as a Teaching Fellow in Modern Art, having completed her AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Birmingham. Imogen’s research during the Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowship is on ‘Therapy and Health in Twentieth-Century Visual Arts’ and comprises two projects. The first focuses on therapeutic art-making practices in early- to mid-twentieth-century Britain and the United States. The second examines representations of medical themes in art produced after the Second World War.

Structural & Chemical Biology (Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology - LISCB)

Ivan Campeotto

Ivan Campeotto obtained his Wellcome Trust PhD in protein crystallography at the University of Leeds before postdoctoral research at Imperial College London and the University of Oxford on structural studies of host-pathogen interactions in the bacteriology and parasitology fields. His Fellowship, funded jointly by the Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF and LISCB, focuses on the mechanisms of infection of two parasite-borne diseases: malaria and Chagas disease, using a combination of structural, biophysical and computational approaches.

Joanna Fox

Joanna is interested in the regulation and structural architecture of apoptotic proteins complexes which determine cell fate outcomes. More specifically, her Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF/LISCB Fellowship will enable her to examine how key protein complexes assemble and regulate the ability of a cell to commit to intrinsic apoptosis. This detailed analysis provides mechanistic insight into how the apoptotic threshold of cells is determined and may guide future drug development.

Pietro Roversi

Pietro obtained a PhD in structural chemistry from Milano University, Italy (1993-1997), before joining the MRC-LMB in Cambridge (1996-2003) where Pietro was part of the effort that introduced Bayesian statistics to macromolecuar crystallography. Pietro then moved to Oxford (2003-2012) to work as a structural biologist on the complement system in the group of Susan Lea. After a 1-year Ikerbasque Fellowship at the CIC BioGUNE in Bilbao, Spain (2012-2013), Pietro returned to Oxford to the Glycobiology Institute to work on quality control processes involved in glycoprotein folding . This research, which aims to develop therapeutic approaches to rare diseases caused by misfolded glycoproteins, forms the basis for his Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF/LISCB Fellowship.

Ben Warren

Ben works understands basic principles of how we hear, including when our hearing goes wrong. To do this he uses a rather unconventional model system: the abdominal ear of the desert locust. It may seem far-fetched to use the ear of an insect to understand our own hearing. The locust ear, however, operates along similar biophysical principles, shares striking developmental homology and suffers age-related and noise-induced hearing loss in much the same way as humans. This Wellcome Trust Fellowship will pioneer cutting edge genetic techniques to unravel the molecular basis of hearing in the ear of the desert locust and in doing so allow us to derive fundamental principles of hearing that apply across animals, including humans.

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Previous Cohort Members

Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is a Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow working with Professor Martha Clokie in the Department of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation. He earned his PhD in microbiology at Oregon State University in 2016. Prior to that he worked as a post-baccalaureate Cancer Research Training Fellow in Donald Court's lab at the National Cancer Institute.  His expertise is in bacterial and bacteriophage genetics and genomics, and microbial community metagenomics. Bacteriophages and bacteriophage therapy - using phages to treat bacterial infections - have been long-term interests for him. He currently seeks to apply data-driven approaches to the problem of making bacteriophage therapy more rational and predictable.

Peter Causey-Freeman

Peter Causey-Freeman is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Genetics and Genome biology. During his early research career, he developed innovative laboratory-based approaches to genomic analysis. In 2015, he moved towards a bioinformatics focus. He developed analytical software (http://variantvalidator.org/) that ensures accurate descriptions of human DNA sequence changes away from the reference human genome sequence, and accurate mapping of these changes onto the reference sequences of the products of human genes (messenger RNA and protein). Accurate representation and mapping of DNA sequence variation is essential to underpin clinical decision making and to enable the discovery of rare disease-causing gene mutations. Peter will use his Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowship to develop software that will enhance identification of disease-causing mutations, improve the integrity of genomic data and improve the accuracy of genomic data interpretation.

Relevant links

Steven Taylor

Steven is a historian of childhood medicine.  His research explores ideas and constructions of childhood mental health, lay and professional diagnoses, ability and disability, and institutional care. His first monograph, Beyond the Asylum: Child Insanity in England, 1845-1907 was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017.  Through his Leicester-Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowhip, Steven is now developing a new project that examines how children were medicalised in school environments in twentieth-century Britain.

For further information about the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support scheme at the University of Leicester visit www.le.ac.uk/issf


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