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Emma Mead

Head of Biology, Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute

Emma received her PhD in Neuroscience from University College London, investigating the role of reactive oxygen species in modulating neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. Following a post-doctoral research position at Cardiff University, where she studied the mechanism of action of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds, Emma joined Eli Lilly as a senior scientist and team co-ordinator. Emma worked in target validation and early drug discovery for neurodegeneration, and established an in vitro neuroinflammation assay platform. Emma joined the ODDI in 2018 to lead the Neuroinflammation team, and is now the Head of Biology.

The biology team at the ODDI work to evaluate novel dementia targets that modulate neuroinflammation and organelle dysfunction. Both of these areas have been identified by human genetic studies as being dysregulated in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and are implicated in the development of pathology. We have identified a number of potential points of therapeutic intervention in immune pathways in microglia (including genes in the TREM2, inflammasome and complement cascades), and mitochondrial and endo-lysosomal targets that may hold therapeutic potential. The group work to validate these targets through the development of novel in vitro assays utilising human iPSC macrophages, relevant cell lines and primary cells. Targets that hold potential for further drug development are prosecuted via screening assays, and the biology team have developed cell based, biochemical and biophysical screening assays to identify novel small molecule compounds. Hits from our screens are further profiled in appropriate cell based assays to facilitate drug development, which is performed alongside our colleagues in the Chemistry team. Our goal is therefore to translate the cutting edge academic research in neurodegeneration to drug discovery programmes.

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