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Adam Al-Diwani

DPhil Student: From January 2017

Adam is a psychiatrist in training taking time out of his clinical programme to complete a 3 year Wellcome DPhil Training Fellowship, supported by the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. He is supervised by Belinda Lennox in Psychiatry and Sarosh Irani in NDCN in collaboration with Charlie Stagg and her team in OHBA/FMRIB. 

Adam's research focuses on a group of conditions called autoimmune encephalitis, which are caused by antibodies that target crucial synaptic signalling molecules including NMDA, AMPA, and GABA receptors.  Patients will frequently present to psychiatrists with rapidly developing alterations in mental state including psychosis, anxiety and mood changes such as mania and depression, before later developing ‘neurological’ features such as seizures, movement disorders and coma. Rather than being mere markers of the disease state, it is fairly clear that in these patients that ‘neuronal surface antibodies' are directly responsible for the disease.  However there is an emerging group of patients with the same antibodies with a psychiatric illness only. Treatment decisions here are challenging and Adam is interested in developing biomarkers to inform clinical management.

His research will compare people with NMDA receptor antibodies with autoimmune encephalitis to psychosis only, and to psychosis only without the antibodies. Alongside laboratory immunology, he plans to use multi-modal MRI techniques on a cohort entering a randomised controlled trial of immunotherapy, to explore differences in network connectivity between these groups at baseline and whether this is improved with immunotherapy differentially to placebo.

Freya Marijatta

MSc Neuroscience: January - April 2018

Freya worked with our lab as part of her MSc in Neuroscience, supervised by Charlotte Stagg with day-to-day supervision from Jacob Levenstein. She used a new 7T MRI protocol which allows for simultaneous functional imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging (MRSI), from which it is possible to draw direct links between brain activation and neurochemistry in the primary motor cortex. The project involves participants performing a simple motor task in the scanner and a subsequent motor learning task.

Ioana Grigoras

MSc Neuroscience: April - June 2018

Ioana is working within our lab as part of her MSc in Neuroscience, supervised by Charlotte Stagg with day-to-day supervision from Ainslie Johnstone.  

Caroline Lea-CarnALL

MRC Research Fellow

Caroline is an MRC Research Fellow based at the University of Manchester. Her current research is focussed on understanding mechanisms of plasticity in the human somatosensory cortex. Her research combines experimental work involving non-invasive brain stimulation with psychophysics testing and mathematical modelling. She is particularly interested in the dynamics of cortical networks in both healthy and diseased brains and have successfully applied a combination of quantitative mathematical modelling techniques and neuroimaging data to furthering our understanding in this field.

Her work uses a combination of EEG, fMRI and MR spectroscopy to measure changes in neural dynamics in response to stimuli such as tACS or repetitive tactile stimulation. At the same time, She is developing mathematical models to try to explain the biochemical mechanisms that underpin plasticity in response to stimulation. The models are used to make predictions which are, in turn, testable experimentally. Ultimately, it is hoped that modelling work of this kind will optimise non-invasive brain stimulation and aid both clinicians and researchers working in this field.

Find out more about Caroline's work and her MRC Award here.

Elisabeth rounis

Elisabeth is a Clinical Lecturer in Neurology who will be joining the group from February 2017.

Find out more about her research here