Identifying genes that increase the risk of bowel or other cancers allows us to offer preventative measures, such as removing tumours at an early stage. A better understanding of how and why cancers grow also helps develop improved treatments.
Diabetes is a major challenge for global healthcare, with social, health and economic costs projected to exceed trillions of dollars over the next 50 years. Professor Mark McCarthy leads a multidisciplinary research team focusing on translating genetic information into advances in the functional understanding, and clinical management, of these diseases.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel condition caused by the immune system’s inability to recognise its own intestinal bacteria. Professor Alison Simmons is a gastroenterologist researching innate immunity. Having recently defined the functions of NOD2, a key immune sensor, Alison’s work could lead to the development of better immunotherapies for Crohn’s Disease.
The gastrointestinal tract is lined with a single sheet of epithelium that is replaced every 4-5 days. The base of a flask-shaped structured called the crypt is where the gastrointestinal stem cells are found. These divide to form daughter cells that travel up the crypt to replace these cells. Professor Simon Leedham's current research focuses on the cell-signaling pathways that control intestinal stem cells and the dysregulation of these pathways in cancer.
Before translating basic research into the clinic it is important to first undergo clinical trials in order to identify safe treatments and therapies for disease. Led by Professor Simon Davis, the Gastroenterology Clinical Trials Facility at Oxford University works to translate basic research into clinical trials of novel therapies for gastrointestinal and liver disease.
The gastrointestinal tract is home to more bacteria than there are cells in our body. In order to stay healthy our immune system must maintain a strong and effective response towards these bacteria. Professor Holm Uhlig studies defects in this immune response, focussing predominately on children with inflammatory bowel disease.
Hepatitis C virus is a global epidemic, affecting 170 million people worldwide. Unlike other vaccines, inducing antibody reactions to Hepatitis C is often ineffective because antibodies only target the outer surface of the virus. To combat this Professor Ellie Barnes is developing a new therapeutic vaccine for this damaging virus.
There are currently around 91,000 people in the UK living with HIV/AIDS. HIV is a challenging target because it can mutate its genetic makeup. The aim of Professor Lucy Dorrell’s research is to develop immunotherapy to reduce dependence on antiretroviral therapy, the current standard treatment for those infected with HIV-1.
BCG, now over 100 years old, remains the only licensed vaccine against Tuberculosis. It confers good protection against severe disease and meningitis but doesn’t protect against lung disease. MVA85A was the first vaccine of the new generation to enter into efficacy testing. It is currently being tested in The Gambia, Senegal and South Africa.
Christiane Dolecek's clinical research focuses on tropical diseases, in particular enteric fever and malaria. She has led enteric fever clinical trials in Vietnam and Nepal with the aim to systematically assess the current WHO recommendations as well as new treatment options.
Malnutrition is responsible for almost a third of childhood mortality worldwide. A better understanding of the bacteria in a child’s gut will assist researchers in developing better treatment options. Consultant in paediatric infectious diseases, Professor Jay Berkley works in Kilifi, Kenya on the infection and inflammation of the gut to prevent mortality in malnourished children.
Director of the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Bangkok, Thailand, Professor Nick Day is particularly interested in the epidemiology, pathophysiology and treatment of malaria, melioidosis, leptospirosis, rickettsial infections, Staphylococcus aureus infections, influenza, Dengue and other communicable diseases afflicting rural populations throughout Asia and beyond.
Current malaria therapies using artesunate aim to kill malaria parasites before they mature. Such medications have high success rates but need to be developed further. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, Professor Arjen Dondorp works on treatments for severe malaria, antimalarial drug resistance, and improvements in intensive care practice within developing countries.
Melioidosis is a neglected tropical disease, and a major infectious killer in South East Asia. Melioidosis particularly affects people with diabetes. Professor Dunachie studies how the patients' own immune system fight the disease, with the aim of designing a vaccine that could stop people getting sick and dying.
It is increasingly apparent that Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) may not be the long-term solution to the management of HIV infection. Consultant in infectious diseases & general internal medicine, Professor John Frater works on quantification of viral reservoirs, sequence analysis, immunology, as well as fundamental research into new approaches for the eradication of HIV.
Around half of the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria. After studying malaria susceptibility in African children for many years, Professor Adrian Hill is now developing a vaccine against malaria by inducing cellular immune responses (T lymphocytes), instead of taking the more common research approach of stimulating antibodies.
Hepatitis C virus infects around 200 million people worldwide. Understanding immune responses to the virus could help to protect or cure people with Hepatitis C. Consultant in infectious diseases and in microbiology, Professor Paul Klenerman studies relationships between viruses and their human hosts, aiming to understand the immune system’s role in determining the outcome of viral infection.
Malaria remains a major world health problem, particularly among children in Africa. Professor Kevin Marsh has a broad research interest in child health in the tropics, with a particular focus on the immune epidemiology of malaria. Consultant in infectious diseases and tropical medicine and based in Kenya, Professor Marsh is working on preventing and curing malaria in Africa.
Professor François Nosten's work concentrates on infectious diseases at the Thai-Burma border. The main focus of his research is on malaria, especially malaria in pregnant women and emerging drug resistance of malaria parasites.
Professor Daniel Paris co-ordinates rickettsial research in Thailand and Laos. His major interests include the epidemiology, diagnostics, pathophysiology and immune response of rickettsial infections and typhus-like illnesses (Leptospirosis, Typhoid and Dengue) afflicting rural populations throughout Asia and beyond.
Poor quality medicines are a serious threat to our health. Falsified medicines and substandards medicines are a problem for all countries, but particularly for low and middle income countries where we see, for example, a large epidemic of fake anti-malarial drugs. Globally, better medicine regulatory authorities will help improve the quality of our medicines.
HIV behaves very differently in children: while most adults are able to control the virus after infection, children often struggle to do so, resulting in an extremely high mortality rate. Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones aims to contribute to the design of vaccines and immunotherapies against HIV infection for adults and children.
Professor Guy Thwaites is the Director of Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU), Vietnam. He is trying to improve outcomes for patients with tuberculous meningitis, the most severe form of tuberculosis. An early diagnostic allows faster clinical intervention; improved treatments also increase chances of survival.
Malaria kills more than half a million people every year. Following a number of groundbreaking clinical trials, Professor Nick White and his Thailand team successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of artemisinin drug therapy for malaria in adults, children and infants. He also pioneered artemisinin combination therapy, the first-line treatment for malaria worldwide.
Understanding the variation of malaria risk between houses, villages or region, and how malaria is transmitted in and around that variability helps develop better malaria control programmes and use their resources more wisely. Since malaria control tools are becoming less effective with time, progress in vaccine design is essential.
Genetic variation plays an important role in individual susceptibility to common diseases. Professor Julian Knight’s research focuses on how genetic variation between individuals affects the way immune and inflammatory genes are expressed. Improved understanding of genetic susceptibility to common diseases, will lead to more targeted and effective treatments for patients.
Malaria epidemiology focuses on two main challenges to malaria elimination: antimalarial drug resistance and the movement of people that are spreading the malaria parasite. Travel surveys and cellphone records, combined with population parasite genetics help predict the spread of malaria and of drug resistance. Close coordination with all groups and agencies involved is crucial to malaria surveillance and elimination strategies.
The accumulation of fat in the arteries, such as cholesterol, can cause a thickening of the artery wall known as atherosclerosis. Consultant in acute general medicine and in nephrology, Professor Chris O'Callaghan is researching the role of the innate immune system in atherosclerosis, to better understand immune responses in vascular disease. This may lead to improved treatments.
The majority of people infected with the dengue virus experience a flu-like febrile illness, but in a small proportion of patients, particularly children, the virus causes the blood vessels to become leaky which can induce shock and lead to death. Improved diagnosis and understanding of the disease process enable better outcomes for patients with severe dengue.
Artemisinins are very poweful tools in the treatment of malaria, and the emerging loss of their activity has the potential to create a major public health problem. Understanding how this resistance has developed and spread helps better treat patients, treat populations and eliminate malaria, which is the new goal in South East Asia.
In tropical countries, poor diagnosis of malaria often results in sub-optimal treatments. Dr Climent Casals-Pascual is currently researching the diagnosis and clinical management of severe malaria in tropical populations. The development of new tools to diagnose and manage malaria more effectively will significantly decrease morbidity and mortality in affected areas.
Understanding how an infection spreads is vitally important for prevention. Whole genome sequencing of microorganisms allows us to construct family trees of infections, from donnor to recipients, and understand how microbes behave in general. Through its genetic code, we can also predict whether a germ is susceptible or resistant to a specific antibiotic, and give patients a more stratified and personalised treatment.
Infectious diseases are prevalent in Cambodia, a country that is struggling with poor infrastructure. Streptococcus pneumoniae causes the most severe form of pneumonia and is now targeted by the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Professor Paul Turner is studying the effect of this vaccine in field conditions in SE Asia, as well as other direct applications such as the evaluation of a new diagnostic test for Typhoid and interventions to reduce the burden of infections acquired within hospitals.
Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system, which is designed to attack pathogens, ends up attacking the body. This can lead to a number of diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Professor Richard Cornall aims to understand the causes of autoimmune disease and how people differ in their inherited susceptibility.
Oxygen sensing mechanisms were first discovered as a result of studies on the production of the kidney hormone erythropoietin. Professor Chris Pugh is working on the oxygen sensing functions of the body to assist in designing better therapies for disorders that involve oxygenation problems, such as angina and cancer.
Professor Mike English leads the Health Services Unit at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. This unit aims to strengthen equality in access to affordable quality health care in Africa. Studies are based on health systems clustered around five main topics: malaria, service delivery & access, information for decision making, governance and financing.
Whereas children mortality has dramatically decreased over the past 15 years, almost half the remaining mortality still occurs during the first 4 weeks of age. Neonatology, or care of newborns, doesn't need to be difficult or expensive. Low cost intervertions involving communities, such as keeping babies warm, save lives.
Due to advances in medicine prolonging the lives of those with progressive, life limiting diseases, the need for long-term palliative care has increased. Professor Wee is currently researching end of life care for people with incurable diseases, including symptom management and rehabilitation, to improve quality of life for patients.
In western Cambodia some malaria parasites are becoming increasingly resistant to artemisinin – the world’s number-one antimalarial treatment. By sequencing over 1000 parasite samples around the world, Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski has identified genetic information to assist in monitoring the spread of drug resistance, and to fight the global burden of malaria.
Over 250 Institutions participate in the effort of sharing data on the efficacy of antimalarial drugs, which involves standardising and re-analysing data. Bringing all this data together creates new evidence that can be translated into policy practice, offering new therapeutic options for particular populations.
Mona Bafadhel studies the pathophysiology of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The two inflammatory phenotypes of COPD are clinically indistinguishable but have different treatment responses. Professor Bafadhel is working on the development of novel therapeutic strategies for COPD, particularly to treat the regular periods of worsened symptoms that patients experience.
Ian Pavord is Professor of Respiratory Medicine and has been joint Chief Medical Advisor to Asthma UK since May 2008. He has developed new techniques to get a better idea about airway inflammation and uses this information to investigate the best treatments to prevent asthma attacks.
The pleura is a thin membrane that covers the surface of the lungs. Professor Najib Rahman specialises in areas of respiratory medicine including pleural disease and sleep ventilation conditions. Professor Rahman leads a team which conducts clinical studies aimed at improving our diagnosis and treatment of a number of respiratory diseases, at the Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit.