• All
  • Principle Investigators
  • Researchers
  • Students
  • Collaborators
  • Roy Weller
    Roy Weller
    Professor of Neuropathology
  • Roxana Carare
    Roxana Carare
    Professor of Clinical Neuroanatomy
  • Alexandra K Diem
    Alexandra K Diem
    Research Fellow
  • Antigoni Manousopoulou
    Antigoni Manousopoulou
    Proteomics specialist
  • Maureen Gatherer
    Maureen Gatherer
    Histochemistry specialist
  • Matt MacGregor Sharp
    Matt MacGregor Sharp
    Electron Microscopist
  • Nazira Albargothy
    Nazira Albargothy
    PHD Student
  • Roxana Aldea
    Roxana Aldea
    PHD Student
  • Abby Keable
    Abby Keable
    PHD Student
  • Darek Gorecki
    Darek Gorecki
    Professor of Molecular Medicine
  • Ajay Verma
    Ajay Verma
    Professor of Neurology
  • Myron Christodoulides
    Myron Christodoulides
    Reader in Molecular Bacteriology/ Microbiology
  • Donna M Wilcock
    Donna M Wilcock
    Professor in Alzheimer's Disease Research
  • Christopher Torrens
    Christopher Torrens
    Associate Professor in Physiology
  • Neil Bressloff
    Neil Bressloff
    Professor of Biomedical Engineering & Design
  • Felino Cagampang
    Felino Cagampang
    Associate professor in Integrative Physiology
  • Cheryl Hawkes
    Cheryl Hawkes
    Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience
Roy Weller
Professor of Neuropathology

Roy Weller qualified in Medicine at Guy’s Hospital, London. Following research and clinical pathology posts in London and New York, he was appointed Professor of Neuropathology in the University of Southampton UK to provide a clinical diagnostic neuropathology service and to pursue research.

Roy’s main area of research has been in the pathophysiology of fluid drainage pathways from the CNS. Initially the research involved hydrocephalus and lymphatic drainage of CSF but later concentrated on the perivascular lymphatic drainage of Interstitial Fluid and Soluble Metabolites from the brain, correlating experimental models with the pathology of human neuroimmunological disease and dementias. There is growing acceptance that failure of perivascular elimination of amyloid-beta (Aß) from the brain along the walls of ageing cerebral arteries plays a significant role in the aetiology of Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. The aim is to develop a broadly based translational approach to perivascular drainage of the brain and the origin of Neuro-ophthalmological disease in the search for treatment of dementias and neuroimmunological disorders.

Roxana Carare
Professor of Clinical Neuroanatomy

R.O.Carare@soton.ac.uk
 
Roxana Carare is a medically qualified Professor of Clinical Neuroanatomy and experimental neuropathology in the University of Southampton. Having graduated in general medicine in 1994 in Bucharest, Roxana completed her PhD in experimental neuropathology in 2006, in the University of Southampton, UK. The main international recognition for Roxana Carare has come from the neuroanatomy and neuropathology interdisciplinary research she leads, demonstrating the unique lymphatic drainage pathways by which fluid and soluble amyloid are eliminated from the brain along basement membranes within the walls of cerebral capillaries and arteries (Intramural Periarterial Drainage Pathways, IPAD). The focus of her research is to manipulate the pathways to improve the clearance of amyloid and interstitial fluid from the ageing brain, preventing neurodegenerative and neurovascular disease.

Qualifications

PhD
University of Southampton (2006)
Medical Doctor (MD)
Faculty of Medicine, University Carol Davila, Bucharest (1994)

Positions held

Professor of Clinical Neuroanatomy
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton: 2016-present
Lecturer in Clinical Neurosciences
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton: 2008-2016
Lecturer in Anatomy
Faculty of Medicine,University of Southampton: 2001-2008
Teaching Assistant in Human Morphology
School of Medicine, University of Southampton:1998-2001
Clinical Attachments in Surgery
Care of the Elderly, Hospitals in UK and Rep of Ireland: 1996-1997
Clinical House Officer
Clinical in Medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics, Romanian Hospitals: 1995-1996

Other roles and activities

 

Member of

 

Associate Editor

 

Reviewer

 

Alexandra K Diem
Research Fellow

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, UK. My PhD dealt with the role of arterial pulsations as a potential driving mechanism for periarterial clearance of waste from the brain. Using tools and techniques from both mathematics and engineering I demonstrated that arterial pulsations are physically unsuitable as a major driving force. Following this result I have shifted the focus of my work onto a more global view of waste clearance from the brain and building simulation models of solute dynamics of both the healthy and diseased brain.

During the final year of my PhD I took part in the Three Minute Thesis competition, which earned me Runner Up at the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment final.

As a spin-off from my PhD I have developed and am maintaining the Vascular Modelling in Python toolkit, an open-source software package for the simulation of blood flow through arteries.

In my spare time I am mostly active outdoors, most likely running or cycling, but also enduro mtb, windsurfing, climbing and hiking.

Alexandra K. Diem
Doctoral Prize Research Fellow
University of Southampton
A.K.Diem@soton.ac.uk

Antigoni Manousopoulou
Proteomics specialist

Investigating the global proteomic profile of leptomeningeal arteries and white/grey matter using novel LC-MS based proteomic approaches.

Maureen Gatherer
Histochemistry specialist

Investigating proteomic changes in the cerebral vasculature of young and aged brains and those with Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy using specialised histochemistry techniques.

Matt MacGregor Sharp
Electron Microscopist

Electron microscopist specialising in pathological changes in the ultrastructure of cerebral blood vessels.

3D reconstruction of a smooth muscle cell

Nazira Albargothy
PHD Student

The lymphatic clearance pathways of the brain are different compared to the other organs of the body and have been the subject of heated debates. Drainage of brain extracellular fluids, particularly interstitial fluid (ISF) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), is not only important for volume regulation, but also for removal of waste products such as Aβ. CSF plays a special role in clinical medicine, as it is available for analysis of biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Despite the lack of a complete anatomical and physiological picture of the communications between the subarachnoid space and the parenchyma, it is often assumed that Aβ is cleared from the ISF into the CSF. The direction of flow, the anatomical structures involved and the driving forces remain elusive. The presence of Aβ in the glia limitans in AD suggests a direct communication of ISF with CSF. I analyse the movement of tracers following intra-cerebral/parenchymal injection in rodents using light microscopy, TEM, SEM and Gatan-3-View.

Roxana Aldea
PHD Student

Fourth-year, EPSRC funded PhD student at the Institute for Complex Systems Simulations at the University of Southampton. Awarded The EPSRC Doctoral Prize Research Fellowship in 2017.

How to tackle dementia with Mathematics

A mother to her son, a husband to his wife, a grandmother to her granddaughter:

  • Where did I leave my keys?
  • What day is today?
  • Who are you?

Are these questions part of normal ageing or symptoms of dementia?

Understanding dementia

Dementia is not normal ageing and is characterised by cognitive deficits, memory loss and personality changes that compromise the independent living of more than 46 million people world-wide. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and has no effective intervention. I believe that the limited success in the discovery of long-term cure for AD could partly be due to incomplete understanding of its aetiology. For many years, AD was considered solely a neurodegenerative disease. Recently, however, a new paradigm has emerged. The presence of numerous vascular risk factors of AD has led to its classification as a vascular disease, increasing the complexity of pathology and the number of research pathways that need exploring.

Maths in medicine: a different approach

This is the type of problem that has motivated my decision of becoming a biophysicist. Given its complexity, it is unlikely that Alzheimer’s disease can be fully understood and treated through conventional biological sciences alone. Biophysical and mathematical models are powerful tools that have not yet been explored to their full potential in the biomedical and clinical fields. I have dedicated my PhD to bridging the gap between the neurodegeneration and the vascular pathology present in AD. Rather than looking through a microscope to brain tissue samples, I have been looking at Alzheimer’s dementia through the eyes of a physicist: physical principles from fluid dynamics and solid mechanics have been my strategy, mathematical models of cerebral blood vessels my tool and the pathology of Alzheimer’s dementia my target. Such a line of action could not have been successful without the guidance and mutual interest of my supervisors from Mathematical Sciences and Clinical Neuroanatomy.

Mathematics is the language that has allowed me to quantify physiological processes, to investigate multi-scale biological systems and to link disciplines such as Physics, Computer Science, Biology and Medicine. Despite its usefulness, mathematical modelling is an underrepresented approach in biomedical and clinical applications. Could it be due to the fact that for many Mathematics sounds like a foreign language difficult to grasp or could it be because scientists from biomedicine and clinical sciences remain sceptical to reductionist thinking?

The latter concern raises the question of how much physiological detail can be included in a mathematical model. My approach to this challenge can be summarised by the words of Albert Einstein:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

The value of interdisciplinarity

Regarding the language of communication across the technological and biological sciences, I have learnt that the best strategy to engage with a biomedical audience is to keep the mathematical model as a black box and familiarise myself with the biological lexicon. In this way, my physical models take the shape of anatomical systems and mathematical equations express physiological processes. Embracing this strategy requires a large amount of self-teaching, high flexibility in communication and departure from the comfort zone of a mathematician or a physicist. It is nonetheless a thrilling way to develop unique skills and grow as a well-rounded scientist.

The interdisciplinary funding offered by EPSRC has offered me an amazing opportunity to develop projects that combine the flexibility of mathematical and physical modelling with the value of basic science and state-of-art neuroimaging in order to address the complexity of dementia. I believe that such an interdisciplinary perspective is the only path forward, contributing to a solid foundation for future successful treatments.

Abby Keable
PHD Student

Modelling perivascular drainage using novel flow culture techniques to investigate toxicity of amyloid beta on different human neuronal cell types.

Darek Gorecki
Professor of Molecular Medicine

Director of Research

School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth

Darek was born in Warsaw, Poland where he read medicine and obtained his PhD. His key research interest is pathogenesis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He started research in this area as a post-doctoral fellow in the Molecular Neurobiology Unit, University of Cambridge under Professor Eric A Barnard, FRS. He continued it at the Royal Free & University College Medical School in London working as a research fellow and later obtained a personal Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship. Since moving to his present laboratory in Portsmouth he has worked as a Senior Lecturer, Reader and, since 2007, Professor of Molecular Medicine. He is the Director of Research in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. In 2011 he won Distinguished Fulbright Scholarship to work at Harvard Medical School, USA researching the role of specific ATP receptors in muscular dystrophy. Read more

Ajay Verma
Professor of Neurology

Chief Medical Officer at United Neuroscience

Ajay Verma is a neurologist who is devoted to the advancement of neurotherapeutics and neurodiagnostics. He studied zoology at the University of Maryland and received his MD and his PhD in neurotoxicology from The Johns Hopkins University, training with Dr. Solomon Snyder. His neurology residency training was in the US Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he remained on clinical staff for another 11 years. Ajay spent 12 years on the faculty of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the US Military’s Medical School. Since leaving the Army as a Lt. Colonel in 2006, Ajay has served in leadership roles at Merck & Co., Inc., Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and Biogen where he directed drug development, biomarkers, and experimental medicine efforts in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, ALS, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and other brain and neuromuscular disorders.

Myron Christodoulides
Reader in Molecular Bacteriology/ Microbiology

University of Southampton

Myron Christodoulides is a graduate in microbiology from University College London and the University of Glasgow and a specialist in bacteriology. After postdoctoral fellowships with the Government of Canada and at the University of Newcastle, Myron began a long association with the Neisseria Research Group at the University of Southampton. His basic research is in bacterial pathogenesis, with a primary emphasis on the cellular and molecular basis of meningitis. There is also a strong translational element to his research, which began from his PhD studies on the development of novel acellular pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines. Current vaccine research is goal-orientated towards identification and preclinical evaluation of Neisseria meningitidis antigens as potential vaccine candidates.

Donna M Wilcock
Professor in Alzheimer's Disease Research

University of Kentucky College of Medicine

The Wilcock lab is interested in vascular cognitive impairment and dementia; the second most common cause of dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to being a major cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease patients commonly have vascular cognitive impairment as a co-morbidity. We have projects to examine the molecular mechanisms of vascular cognitive impairment, focusing primarily on inflammatory processes. We also have projects that determine the influence cerebrovascular disease has on the progression and severity of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as how these vascular pathologies affects response to Alzheimer’s disease targeted therapeutics. Finally, we have a project in collaboration with Elizabeth Head of Pharmacology and Frederick Schmitt of Neurology to assess neuroinflammatory changes in Down Syndrome. We are developing a translational research program examining neuroinflammatory proteins and homocysteine as modifiable biomarkers of cognitive impairment due to both Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular pathologies.

Christopher Torrens
Associate Professor in Physiology

University of Southampton

Dr Torrens received his BSc in Biological Sciences with Honours in Physiology from Glasgow Caledonian University before undertaking a PhD at the newly established FOAD centre, within the School of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

His PhD work demonstrated the maternal nutrient restriction in pregnancy lead to endothelial dysfunction in the offspring, which was apparent in their subsequent pregnancy and was transmitted to the second generation.

Following the completion of his PhD Dr Torrens remained in Southampton to continue this work on a BHF funded project before spending a short period at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland as a Visiting Research Fellow. Shortly after returning to Southampton, Dr Torrens was appointed as a lecturer in physiology in 2006.

Neil Bressloff
Professor of Biomedical Engineering & Design

Founder of Carena Healthcare, University of Southampton

As Professor of Biomedical Engineering & Design, Neil Bressloff works closely with clinicians and industry seeking to better understand a range of human diseases, particularly those in the cardiovascular system, and to design devices for treatment.

 

Felino Cagampang
Associate professor in Integrative Physiology

Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton

Dr Felino Cagampang is currently Associate Professor in Integrative Physiology within Medicine at the University of Southampton. He obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of the Philippines, and graduate degrees (MSc & PhD) at Nagoya University (Japan). He did his post-doctoral research work at the Mitsubishi Kasei Institute of Life Sciences (Japan), at King’s College London, and at the University of Manchester, in the field of circadian clock biology. In 2002, he joined the University of Southampton.

Dr Cagampang’s current research focuses on developmental programming of obesity and the metabolic syndrome, and the role of the biological clock system in disease pathologies and treatment. His work is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Diabetes UK. Dr Cagampang’s research group is based at the Institute of Developmental Sciences (Southampton General Hospital site), and comprises both clinical and basic scientist and researchers, as well as postgraduate and medical students.

Cheryl Hawkes
Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience

My primary research interest is the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with particular focus on cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), the deposition of toxic ß-amyloid (Aß) aggregates that accumulate in the walls of blood vessels in the elderly brain.  These vascular Aβ deposits cause vasoconstriction, inhibit angiogenesis and induce endothelial and smooth muscle cell death, leading to microhaemorrhage, stroke and dementia.  Despite affecting nearly 30% of all elderly individuals and over 90% of AD patients, this phenomenon is significantly under-researched.  Moreover, there are no currently approved therapies for the treatment or prevention of CAA.

My goal is to determine key elements that underlie cerebrovascular ageing and the development of CAA and to uncover physiologic and therapeutic mechanisms by which it can be prevented and treated.

Qualifications

PhD
Neurological Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (2006)
B.Sc
Neuroscience, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (2000)

Positions held

Lecturer in Neurosciences
Dept. of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences, Open University: 2014-present
Research Fellow
Faculty of Medicine,University of Southampton: 2009-2014
Post-doctoral fellowship
Tanz Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Toronto:2006-2009