Skip to main content

Spring 2022 Projects

Funded TREE projects - Spring 2022

Seed corn projects run for six months. Spring 2022 (Round 9) projects are listed in the drop-down panes below.

Lead Academic Co-Investigators Centre Fellow(s) Project title 
Carolina Coelho (CLES/CMH/MRC Centre of Medical Mycology)

Ozgur Akman (CEMPS/Mathematics)

Erin L. Bredeweg (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Ernesto Nakayasu (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Brandon Invergo

Piotr Slowinski

Unravelling immunometabolism by bridging -omics data analysis and computational modelling


The fungal pathogen Cryptococcus spp, causes pneumonia and meningitis, killing approximately 200,000 each year, particularly associated with HIV/AIDS. A healthy immune system can protect us against this infection and thus it is critical to decipher how a healthy immune system works, particularly cells called macrophages, a type of white blood cell involved in pathogen engulfment and killing.

At present, we do not understand fully how macrophages function. Using state of the art tools, we already identified a macrophage-specific molecule required for macrophages to work fully. Thus we want to study macrophages and components of their cellular composition in the absence and presence of this molecule to understand how this molecule controls macrophage function. This can be done with mathematical modelling, which will accelerate insights compared to traditional laboratory experiments.

Ultimately, we will generate new insights on macrophage and infectious diseases, and use these insights to devise new therapies to assist the immune system in fighting this deadly disease.


Lead Academic 


 Centre Fellow(s) 

Project title 

Ben Housden (CMH/LSI/Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Science)

Sarah Bailey (CHM/Institute of Health Research)

Sebastian Oltean (CMH/Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Science)

Richard Oram (CMH/NIHR Clinical research facility/Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Science)

Chrissie Thirlwell (CMH/Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Science)

Michael Weedon (CMH/Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Science)

Brandon Invergo

Piotr Slowinski

Determining the biological mechanisms driving racial disparity in prostate cancer using an interdisciplinary approach


Prostate cancer kills over 300,000 men worldwide each year and no cures currently exist. In addition, the risk of developing prostate cancer is much higher for black men than it is for white men but the reasons for this are unknown.The aim of this project is to work out which genes in the human genome are responsible for this difference between black and white men.This is important because it will allow us to develop new drugs that target these mechanisms and treat prostate cancer more effectively.

Our approach is to disrupt the function of every gene in the genome, one at a time, to find those that change the behaviour of prostate cancer cells. At the same time, we will analysis genome sequences from hundreds of thousands of people to find differences between black and white racial backgrounds. We will then put these data together to find genes that influence prostate cancer cells and that are different between people from different racial backgrounds. These genes may represent important factors in the risk of developing prostate cancer and will be studied in detail in followup projects.       

Lead Academic 


 Centre Fellow(s) 

Project title 

Francis Stephens (CLES/Sport & Health Sciences)

Tim Holsgrove (CEMPS/Engineering)

David Richards (CEMPS/LSI)

Rosalind West (CLES/Sport & Health Sciences)


Arran Hodgkinson

Developing, validating, and automating a novel ultrasound method for determining skeletal muscle quality


If we become injured or have any bout of time in rehabilitation our muscle quality is greatly reduced and can lead to weakness, falls, and further injury and illness. Physiotherapy treatment programmes can help with recovery but there are no clear waysto measure whether they have been successful, partly due to cost and time restraints. The aim of this project is to develop a cheap and fast method to measure and monitor muscle quality, which is a good way of understanding if an illness is progressing or if a treatment has been successful. Ultrasound imaging can be used to measure muscle quality in clinic but the analysis is time consuming and difficult. The present study aims to develop, validate, and automate a novel ultrasound method for determining skeletal muscle quality that be used quickly and easily with a hand-held ultrasound device and mobile app. To do this we will analyse several hundred muscle images that have already been obtained from participants in a transatlantic ocean rowing race, who all lost considerable muscle mass and quality during the crossing. Future work will then test this device in a rehabilitation clinic to help improve clinical practice and patient treatment.