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Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute

 

The MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair (CCMR) was established in 2005 with the aim of developing treatments that promote myelin repair for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Cambridge has for a half a century been leading the research relating to MS biology and as such attracted talent from far to work on MS related research.

CCMR is based on a multi-PI coordinated programme that brings together the diverse but complementary expertise available in Cambridge, coordinating focus on MS regenerative medicine field, where each piece of research feeds into the next like a production line. The multi-disciplinary approach is guaranteed by the presence of PIs and researchers with different resources and expertise, coming together from different departments of the University of Cambridge (Clinical Neuroscience, Veterinary, Paediatrics, Neurosurgery and the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute).

They all are bonded by their shared vision of making discoveries that will directly benefit people with MS, preventing the death of nerve fibres in the brains and spinal cords of people with MS and ultimately live in a world where there are no consequences of an MS diagnosis.

In 2020, funding was renewed for five years to continue to deliver ground breaking research in myelin biology and MS and set up for the first time a structured training programme focused exclusively on training the next generation of MS researchers and academic neurologists. CCMR offers fully-funded PhD positions to motivated students to undertake a PhD at the University of Cambridge.

CCMR is accompanied by the MS Society Edinburgh Centre for MS Research in the journey to discover new treatments.


Key research themes

- Age and Remyelination

- Neuronal health and remyelination

- Translational platform for effective remyelination


Leadership


 

     Dr Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir

     Director of the Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair

 

 

Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir, currently the director of the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair, did her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Iceland.  For her postgraduate training, she entered the Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD Programme in Neuroscience, at UCL, where she did her PhD with Prof. David Attwell. Immediately, after her PhD she was awarded a Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship of the Royal Society, and in 2011 she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Career Development Research Fellowship.

 Since establishing her lab, she has been awarded a number of awards, most recently the Lister Institute Research Prize (one of 5 in the UK), the Allen Distinguished Investigator Award (one of 5 worldwide, first time given outside of USA) and an ERC consolidator award.  In 2015 she was elected to the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence (one of 20 in Europe) and in 2017 awarded the Fabiane Carvalho Miranda International Prize for the best paper published in the years 2015-2017 in myelin biology and MS related research.

Her main research interest is to understand how neuronal activity can regulate oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) differentiation and myelin plasticity in health and disease. Her new line of research interest is to determine the changes in myelin and myelin repair throughout the lifespan.

Affiliation: Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Department of Veterinary Medicine

 

     

 

     Prof Alasdair Coles 

     Co-director of the Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair

 

Alasdair Coles is Professor of Clinical Neuroimmunology in Cambridge. He was closely involved in the development of alemtuzumab (“Lemtrada”) as a treatment of multiple sclerosis. Since then, he has set up trials of remyelinating drugs in multiple sclerosis, first bexarotene [which has now completed] and more recently metformin and clemastine. He is also doing a trial of immunotherapy in autoimmune psychosis. He chaired the MS Society group that identified drugs to repurpose to treat progressive MS and chairs the Scientific Committee of the UK’s MS Register.

Affiliation: Department of Clinical Neurosciences

 


Principal investigators

 

 

 

     Prof Robin Franklin

 

 

Robin Franklin is Professor of Stem Cell Medicine at the Wellcome-Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute He was having previously been Professor of Neuroscience in the University’s School of Biology. He obtained his undergraduate degrees in Physiology and Veterinary Medicine at the University of London and his PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. His main research questions are how stem cells in the adult brain respond to injury, how do they contribute to myelin regeneration, and how are they are affected by ageing. He has published over 260 peer-reviewed papers and is internationally recognised as a leader and pioneer in the field of remyelination biology. He was the founder and director of the Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair between 2005 and 2021. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences was the recipient of the 2017 Barancik International Prize for Research Innovation and the 2021 King Faisal Prize for Medicine.

Affiliation: Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Department of Clinical Neurosciences

 

 

     

     Dr Joanne Jones

 

 

 Joanne Jones is Principal Investigator at the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge, sub-specializing in the care of individuals with multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory disorders of the nervous system.

She obtained her medical degree from Bristol and her PhD from Cambridge University. She became an independent PI in 2015, and now runs a team studying mechanisms of immune regulation. Her group has a particular interest in understanding immune regulation within tissues, and is involved in generating a human immune cell atlas as part of the wider cell atlas project. As a clinician-scientist she has a strong translational track record being Chief Investigator on CAMTHY and a co-investigator on numerous other clinical studies.

Joanne was the recipient of the Royal Society of Medicine Gordon Holmes prize in Neurology in 2007, the British Medical Association Strutt and Harper Immunology Prize in 2010 and in 2014 she was awarded the prestigious Wellcome Trust Beit Prize. In 2015 she was selected as one of 25 female “rising stars” in science by the Royal Physiological Society.

Affiliation: Department of Clinical Neurosciences

 


 

     

     Dr Mark Kotter

 

 

Mark Kotter is a NIHR Clinician Scientist at the University of Cambridge and entrepreneur. As a neurosurgeon, he treats patients with spinal cord injury. Mark is known for discovering the importance of macrophages for brain regeneration, which led to the first regenerative medicine trial for degenerative cervical myelopathy, and for developing opti-ox, a gene targeting approach that enables faithful execution of genetic information in cells. Applied to cellular reprogramming, opti-ox demonstrated that robust activation of a new cell type program (encoded in transcription factors) is necessary and sufficient to deterministically induce a new cellular identity. These findings challenge the theory that cell reprogramming depends on stochastically determined permissive states and enable the production of any human cell within days at purities approaching 100%. 

He is the founder of bit.bio, co-founder of cultured meat startup Meatable, and co-founder and trustee of Myelopathy.org, the first charity dedicated to a common yet often overseen condition causing a 'slow motion spinal cord injury’.

Affiliation: Division of Neurosurgery

 


 

   

     Dr Stefano Pluchino

 

 

Stefano Pluchino is Reader in Regenerative Neuroimmunology and Honorary Consultant in Neurology, within the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. He obtained his MD and PhD in Experimental Neuroscience at the University of Siena (Italy), and progressed towards two consecutive post docs and then tenured Group leader position at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan (Italy), before moving to Cambridge in 2010.

His research over the last 20 years has recalibrated the classical view that cellular grafts only function through structural cell replacement and opened up a new therapeutic avenue by which to use exogenously delivered stem cells, or even stem cell-derived acellular therapies that include extracellular vesicles and exosomes.

His main goal is to develop experimental molecular medicines, including those with stem cells and gene therapy vectors, to slow down the accumulation of irreversible disabilities and improve functional recovery after progressive multiple sclerosis.

He has published over 120 peer-reviewed papers - including Nature, Cell and Cell Stem Cell – and is internationally recognised as a leader and pioneer in the field of regenerative neuroimmunology.

He was the recipient of the 2007 Rita Levi-Montalcini award (FISM), the 2009 Italian Ministry of Health Young Investigator Award and the 2010 International Royan Award for outstanding research in Stem Cell Biology and Technology.

Affiliaton: Department of Clinical Neurosciences

 


 

     

     Prof David Rowitch

 

 

David Rowitch is a pediatrician and developmental neuroscientist. He is Professor and Head of Paediatrics at University of Cambridge, UK, and an Adjunct Professor at UCSF. He obtained his MD from UCLA and PhD degree from Cambridge University. Professor Rowitch is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator whose laboratory investigates genetic factors that determine diversity of neural stem cells and glia of the brain during development and the response to injury. He has applied these principles to better understand white matter injury in premature infants, brain cancer, multiple sclerosis and leukodystrophy. As practicing physician-scientist and neonatologist, he established the UCSF ‘Neuro-NICU’ and led a Phase I first-in-man clinical study of neural stem cell transplant in boys Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease. His interest in precision medicine focuses on applications of genomic technologies to diagnose and better understand the biological basis and rational treatment of rare genetic disorders in children. He is academic lead for Cambridge Children’s Hospital, researching origins of paediatric physical and mental conditions and preventive interventions within the UK National Health Service (NHS).

Affiliation: Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Department of Paediatrics

 


 

     

     Dr Chao Zhao

 

 

Dr Chao Zhao is an Assistant Director of Research at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. He obtained his first degree in Medicine and PhD in Physiology in China. He has been working on myelin regeneration in the central nervous system since 2000, with a focus on the mechanism of stem cell mediated CNS remyelination in a variety of injury models. He has led or contributed to several important studies elucidating roles of regulatory factors both intrinsic to adult stem cells and in the injury environment. The goal of his research is to develop effective interventions for demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis to minimise the functional deficit and enhance regeneration.

Affiliaton: Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Funding

Logo of the MS Society

We are supported by the MS Society.

Events

CCMR Seminar Series will begin in September 2021. More information can be found here.


Contact us

Project Coordinator: Fulvia Carotenuto - fc438@cam.ac.uk


Related links

CCMR Twitter page

MS Society Edinburgh Centre for MS Research