I am an Edmond and Lily Safra Research Fellow and UK DRI Emerging Leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Imperial College London. My research focusses on epigenetic regulation in neurodegenerative disease and employs a combination of wet lab and computational genomics approaches. To understand the functional consequences of non-coding genetic variants and environmental risk factors in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease I use human regulatory genomic annotation. These annotations include epigenetic marks, such as modified histone proteins and DNA modifications, chromatin accessibility as well as chromatin interactions. Likewise, I study how these regulatory landscapes become altered in disease and neuropathological contexts, using both post-mortem human brain tissue as well as matched animal or cellular models. The overarching goal of my lab is to identify the causal regulatory alterations at the earliest stages of neurodegeneration, the cell populations and brain regions in which they occur, their downstream target genes and biological pathways, as well as upstream effectors.
I graduated with degrees in mathematics and psychology from the University of Freiburg, where I specialised in medical statistics and epidemiology. For my PhD in epigenetics I worked with Jonathan Mill and Leonard Schalkwyk at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. I investigated the role of epigenetic modifications in neuropsychiatric health and disease, characterizing epigenetic signatures in human brain associated with ageing and neurodegeneration. Notably, I identified widespread differences in histone acetylation in Alzheimer’s disease compared to neuropathology-free brain, linking these epigenetic marks with genetic risk burden and gene expression signatures. I also investigated DNA modifications associated with early-life stress and victimisation, using large-scale population-based twin and adoption cohorts.
My postdoctoral work with Vardhman Rakyan at Queen Mary University of London focussed on gene-environment interactions following developmental nutritional stress. Specifically, I worked on the assembly, genetic and epigenetic characterisation of ribosomal DNA in human and mouse, and investigated the role of methylomic correlates of paternal obesity in influencing offspring health.
PhD in Epigenetics, 2017
King's College London
Diplom in Mathematics, 2013
BSc in Psychology, 2013