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About our research interests

My main research interests are in neurodegeneration and in brain inflammation. In particular, I am interested in how systemic insults such as infection, inflammation and injury interact with, and influence, ongoing neurodegeneration and associated brain inflammation. I have an ongoing interest in sickness behaviour responses induced by bacterial and viral infections/mimetics and our observation of an exaggeration of these responses in animals/persons with ongoing brain inflammation has brought 2 of my major interests together: Such responses in the aged or demented incorporate episodes of delirium, a phenomenon that remains unexplained and which now represents a major research interest for me. I have been awarded Fellowships by the Wellcome Trust to develop animal models of delirium during dementia and I maintain long-standing collaborations, with the department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford University and the CNS inflammation group in the University of Southampton, exploring some of these issues. More recently we have been funded by the NIH and Simon’s Foundation (USA) to study the interactions between systemic inflammation, brain metabolism and cognitive function in models of hypocholinergic function, brain amyloidosis and autism. Collectively, these avenues are aimed at moving towards defining the role of activated microglia in ageing and neurodegenerative disease, while considering the impact of systemic infections on the brain in multiple vulnerable neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental states. As an experimental approach, I believe in the need for the combined molecular, behavioural and neuropathological / neuroanatomical study of animal models of disease and CNS dysfunction.