R Bicknell

University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (191)1029.73 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: RhoJ is a RhoGTPase expressed in endothelial cells and tumour cells which regulates cell motility, invasion, endothelial tube formation and focal adhesion numbers. This study aimed to further delineate the molecular function of RhoJ. Using timelapse microscopy RhoJ was found to regulate focal adhesion disassembly; siRNA-mediated knockdown of RhoJ increased focal adhesion disassembly time, while expression of an active mutant (daRhoJ) decreased it. Further, daRhoJ co-precipitated with the GIT-PIX complex, a regulator of focal adhesion disassembly. An interaction between daRhoJ and GIT1 was confirmed using yeast-2-hybrid, which depended on the Spa homology domain of GIT1. GIT1, GIT2, β-PIX and RhoJ all co-localised in focal adhesions and depended on each other for their recruitment to focal adhesions. Functionally, the GIT-PIX complex regulated endothelial tube formation, with knockdown of GIT1/2 or β-PIX phenocopying RhoJ knockdown. RhoJ knockout mice showed reduced tumour growth and diminished tumour vessel density, identifying a role for RhoJ in mediating tumour angiogenesis. These studies give novel insight into the molecular function of RhoJ in regulating cell motility and tumour vessel formation.
    Journal of cell science. 06/2014;
  • S Surey, M Berry, A Logan, R Bicknell, Z Ahmed
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    ABSTRACT: The vascular disruption, blood vessel loss and cavitation that occur at spinal cord injury (SCI) epicentres in mice and rats are different, but few studies have compared the acute SCI response in the two species. This is of interest since key elements of the rat SCI response are shared with humans. In this study, we investigated acute SCI responses and characterised changes in pro- and anti-angiogenic factors and matrix deposition in both species. Cavitation was absent in mouse but the area of the lesion site was 21- and 27-fold larger at 8 and 15 days post lesion (dpl), respectively, in the rat compared to intact control. The absence of wound cavitation in the mouse was correlated with increased levels of immunoreactive pro-angiogenic, pro-matrix and pro-wound healing factors, e.g. laminin, matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) and vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) within the wound, which were 6.0-, 2.9-, and 2.8-fold, respectively, higher in the mouse compared to rats at 8 dpl. Increased axonal sparing was observed after DC injury, detected by higher levels of PKC-γ immunoreactivity in the dorsal column of mice compared to rats at both T7 and T9 spinal segments. Despite similar post SCI deficits in plantar heat tests at 2 hours after injury (1.4- and 1.6-fold lower than control mice and rats, respectively), by 7 days the magnitude of these responses were comparable to sham-treated controls in both species, while no post-SCI changes in Von Frey hair filament test response were observed in either species. We conclude that the more robust angiogenesis/wound healing response in the mouse attenuates post-injury wound cavitation. Although the spinal cord functions that were monitored post-injury were similarly affected in both species, we suggest that the quality of the angiogenesis/wound healing response together with the diminished lesion size seen after mouse SCI may protect against secondary axon damage and create an environment more conducive to axon sprouting/regeneration. These results suggest the potential therapeutic utility of manipulating the angiogenic response after human SCI.
    Neuroscience 06/2014; · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The behavior of vascular endothelial cells is greatly altered in sites of pathological angiogenesis, such as a developing tumour or atherosclerotic plaque. Until recently it was thought that this was largely due to abnormal chemical signalling, i.e. endothelial cell chemotransduction, at these sites. However, we now demonstrate that the shear stress intensity encountered by endothelial cells can have a profound impact on their gene expression and behaviour. We review the growing body of evidence suggesting that mechanotransduction, too, is a major regulator of pathological angiogenesis. This fits with the evolving story of physiological angiogenesis, where a combination of metabolic and mechanical signalling is emerging as the probable mechanism by which tight feedback regulation of angiogenesis is achieved in vivo. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Microcirculation (New York, N.Y.: 1994) 01/2014; · 2.37 Impact Factor
  • European journal of surgical oncology: the journal of the European Society of Surgical Oncology and the British Association of Surgical Oncology 12/2013; · 2.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Kinesin motor proteins exert essential cellular functions in all eukaryotes. They control mitosis, migration and intracellular transport through interaction with microtubules. Small molecule inhibitors of the mitotic kinesin KiF11/Eg5 are a promising new class of anti-neoplastic agents currently evaluated in clinical cancer trials for solid tumors and hematological malignancies. Here we report induction of Eg5 and four other mitotic kinesins including KIF20A/Mklp2 upon stimulation of in vivo angiogenesis with vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). Expression analyses indicate up-regulation of several kinesin-encoding genes predominantly in lymphoblasts and endothelial cells. Chemical blockade of Eg5 inhibits endothelial cell proliferation and migration in vitro. Mitosis-independent vascular outgrowth in aortic ring cultures is strongly impaired after Eg5 or Mklp2 protein inhibition. In vivo, interfering with KIF11/Eg5 function causes developmental and vascular defects in zebrafish and chick embryos and potent inhibition of tumor angiogenesis in experimental tumor models. Besides blocking tumor cell proliferation, impairing endothelial function is a novel mechanism of action of kinesin inhibitors.
    Oncotarget 10/2013; · 6.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of global morbidity, causing chronic liver injury that can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The liver is a large and complex organ containing multiple cell types, including hepatocytes, sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC), Kupffer cells and biliary epithelial cells. Hepatocytes are the major reservoir supporting HCV replication, however, the role of non-parenchymal cells in the viral lifecycle remain largely unexplored. LSEC secrete factors that promote HCV infection and transcript analysis identified bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) as a candidate endothelial expressed pro-viral molecule. Recombinant BMP4 increased HCV replication and neutralisation of BMP4 abrogated the pro-viral activity of LSEC conditioned media. Importantly, BMP4 expression was negatively regulated by vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) via a VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) primed activation of p38 MAPK. Consistent with our in vitro observations, we demonstrate that in normal liver VEGFR-2 is activated and BMP4 expression is suppressed. In contrast, in chronic liver disease including HCV infection where there is marked endothelial cell proliferation we observed reduced per endothelial cell VEGFR-2 activation and a concomitant increase in BMP4 expression. Conclusion: These studies identify a role for LSEC and BMP4 in HCV infection and highlight BMP4 as a new therapeutic target for treating individuals with liver disease. (HEPATOLOGY 2013.).
    Hepatology 06/2013; · 12.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In order to map the extracellular or membrane proteome associated with the vasculature and the stroma in an embryonic organism in-vivo, we developed a biotinylation technique in the chicken embryo combined with mass spectrometry and bioinformatic analysis. We also applied this procedure to implanted tumours growing on the chorioallantoic membrane or after induction of granulation tissue. Membrane and extracellular matrix proteins were the most abundant components identified. Relative quantitative analysis revealed differential protein expression patterns in several tissues. Through a bioinformatic approach, we determined endothelial cell protein expression signatures, which allowed us to identify several proteins not yet reported to be associated with endothelial cells or the vasculature. This is the first study reported so far that applies in-vivo biotinylation, in combination with a robust label-free quantitative proteomics approaches and bioinformatic analysis, to an embryonic organism. It also provides the first description of the vascular and matrix proteome of the embryo that may constitute the starting point for further developments.
    Molecular &amp Cellular Proteomics 05/2013; · 7.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background The development of disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s disease is hampered by our lack of understanding of the early pathogenic mechanisms and the lack of early biomarkers and risk factors. We have documented the expression pattern of mTOR regulated genes in the frontal cortex of Alzheimer’s disease patients. We have also examined the functional integrity of mTOR signaling in peripheral lymphocytes in Alzheimer’s disease patients relative to healthy controls. Results In the brain mTOR is seen to control molecular functions related to cell cycle regulation, cell death and several metabolic pathways. These downstream elements of the mTOR signaling cascade are deregulated in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients well before the development of pathology. This dysregulation of the mTOR downstream signaling cascade is not restricted to the brain but appears to be systemic and can be detected in peripheral lymphocytes as a reduced Rapamycin response. Conclusions The dysfunction of the signaling pathways downstream of mTOR may represent a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and is independent of the ApoE status of the patients. We have also identified the molecular substrates of the beneficial effects of Rapamycin on the nervous system. We believe that these results can further inform the development of clinical predictive tests for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
    Acta Neuropathologica Communications. 05/2013; 1.
  • Sarina Kundi, Roy Bicknell, Zubair Ahmed
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    ABSTRACT: Patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) are permanently paralysed and anaesthetic below the lesion. This morbidity is attributed to the deposition of a dense scar at the injury site, the cellular components of which secrete axon growth inhibitory ligands that prevent severed axons reconnecting with denervated targets. Another complication of SCI is wound cavitation where a fluid filled cyst in forms in the peri-lesion neuropil, enlarging over the first few months after injury and cause secondary axonal damage. Wound healing after SCI is accompanied by angiogenesis, which is regulated by angiogenic proteins, produced in response to oxygen deprivation. Necrosis in and about the SCI lesion sites may be suppressed by promoting angiogenesis and the resulting neuropil protection will enhance recovery after SCI. This review addresses the use of angiogenic/wound-healing related proteins including vascular endothelial growth factor, fibroblast growth factor, angiopoietin-1, angiopoietin-2 and transforming growth factor-β to moderate necrosis and axon sparing after SCI, providing a conducive environment for growth essential to functional recovery.
    Neuroscience Research 04/2013; · 2.20 Impact Factor
  • Sarina Kundi, Roy Bicknell, Zubair Ahmed
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    ABSTRACT: It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million people are affected by Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), with more than 130,000 new cases reported each year (International Campaign for Cures of Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis). Although there is currently no cure for SCI, various strategies including rehabilitative, cellular and molecular therapies have been tested in a variety of animal models. But questions remain as to the validity of animal models and whether they relate to the clinical conditions found in humans. This review aims to look at the different and most current models that are used to study SCI and their potential uses in mimicking the human condition. Several different animals models have been developed to study the problems of SCI, allowing exploration of mechanisms and properties of specific pathways such as; the MAPK pathway and spinal cord diseases such as; Syringomyelia and Central Cord Syndrome to name a few to be elucidated. SCI is complicated by cavitation and a glial scar that lines the cavity, reducing the possibility of axon regeneration. Mammalian models, particularly in mice and rats, have been used for many years to study the impact of SCI and potential therapies, however, questions remain as to the validity of these models and their potential usefulness.
    American Journal of Neuroscience. 03/2013; 4(1):1-12.
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    Joseph Wragg, Roy Bicknell
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    ABSTRACT: Anticancer therapeutics have historically been targeted against malignant cells directly. These approaches often have limited efficacy, particularly in advanced disease, due to poor drug infiltration into the tumour. In recent years increasing interest has been focused on the development of alternative targeted therapies, which inhibit tumour development by disrupting the stromal cells that support it. This chapter explores the development of tumour vascular targeting therapies, the successes and setbacks and the encouraging potential of this approach to potentiate 11 the effect of other anti-tumour therapeutics.
    01/2013: pages 59-95; , ISBN: ISBN 978-1-4614-7876-8
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    ABSTRACT: Platelets have recently been shown to drive liver injury in murine models of viral hepatitis and promote liver regeneration through the release of serotonin. Despite their emerging role in inflammatory liver disease little is known about the mechanisms by which platelets bind to the hepatic vasculature. Therefore we referenced public expression data to determine the profile of potential adhesive receptors expressed by hepatic endothelium. We then used a combination of tissue-binding and flow-based endothelial binding adhesion assays to show that resting platelets bind to human hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells and that the magnitude of adhesion is greatly enhanced by thrombin-induced platelet activation. Adhesion was mediated by the integrins Gp1b, αIIbβIII and αvβ3 as well as immobilised fibrinogen. Platelet binding to hepatic endothelial cells resulted in NF-Κb activation and increased chemokine secretion. The functional relevance of platelet binding was confirmed by experiments that showed markedly increased binding of neutrophils and lymphocytes to hepatic endothelial cells under shear conditions replicating those found in the hepatic sinusoid, which was in part dependent upon P-Selectin expression. Thus the ability of platelets to activate endothelium and promote leukocyte adhesion may reflect an additional mechanism through which they promote liver injury.
    AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 12/2012; · 3.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The process of angiogenesis requires endothelial cells (ECs) to undergo profound changes in shape and polarity. Although this must involve remodelling of the EC cytoskeleton, little is known about this process or the proteins that control it. We used a co-culture assay of angiogenesis to examine the cytoskeleton of ECs actively undergoing angiogenic morphogenesis. We found that elongation of ECs during angiogenesis is accompanied by stabilisation of microtubules and their alignment into parallel arrays directed at the growing tip. In other systems, similar microtubule alignments are mediated by the formin family of cytoskeletal regulators. We screened a library of human formins and indentified formin-like 3 (FMNL3; also known as FRL2) as a crucial regulator of EC elongation during angiogenesis. We showed that activated FMNL3 triggers microtubule alignment and that FMNL3 is required for this alignment during angiogenic morphogenesis. FMNL3 was highly expressed in the ECs of zebrafish during development and embryos that were depleted for FMNL3 showed profound defects in developmental angiogenesis that were rescued by expression of the human gene. We conclude that FMNL3 is a new regulator of endothelial microtubules during angiogenesis and is required for the conversion of quiescent ECs into their elongated angiogenic forms.
    Journal of Cell Science 01/2012; 125(Pt 6):1420-8. · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Angiogenesis is essential for solid tumour growth, whilst the molecular profiles of tumour blood vessels have been reported to be different between cancer types. Although presently available anti-angiogenic strategies are providing some promise for the treatment of some cancers it is perhaps not surprisingly that, none of the anti-angiogenic agents available work on all tumours. Thus, the discovery of novel anti-angiogenic targets, relevant to individual cancer types, is required. Using Affymetrix microarray analysis of laser-captured, CD31-positive blood vessels we have identified 63 genes that are upregulated significantly (5-72 fold) in angiogenic blood vessels associated with human invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) of the breast as compared with blood vessels in normal human breast. We tested the angiogenic capacity of a subset of these genes. Genes were selected based on either their known cellular functions, their enriched expression in endothelial cells and/or their sensitivity to anti-VEGF treatment; all features implicating their involvement in angiogenesis. For example, RRM2, a ribonucleotide reductase involved in DNA synthesis, was upregulated 32-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels; ATF1, a nuclear activating transcription factor involved in cellular growth and survival was upregulated 23-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels and HEX-B, a hexosaminidase involved in the breakdown of GM2 gangliosides, was upregulated 8-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels. Furthermore, in silico analysis confirmed that AFT1 and HEX-B also were enriched in endothelial cells when compared with non-endothelial cells. None of these genes have been reported previously to be involved in neovascularisation. However, our data establish that siRNA depletion of Rrm2, Atf1 or Hex-B had significant anti-angiogenic effects in VEGF-stimulated ex vivo mouse aortic ring assays. Overall, our results provide proof-of-principle that our approach can identify a cohort of potentially novel anti-angiogenic targets that are likley to be, but not exclusivley, relevant to breast cancer.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(10):e44294. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    Stuart Egginton, Roy Bicknell
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    ABSTRACT: Capillaries have been recognized for over a century as one of the most important components in regulating tissue oxygen transport, and their formation or angiogenesis a pivotal element of tissue remodelling during development and adaptation. Clinical interest stems from observations that both excessive and inadequate vascular growth plays a major role in human diseases, and novel developments in treatments for cancer and eye disease increasingly rely on anti-angiogenic therapies. Although the discovery of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) provided the first clue for specificity of signalling in endothelial cell activation, understanding the integrative response that drives angiogenesis requires a much broader perspective. The Advances in the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Angiogenesis meeting brought together researchers at the forefront of this rapidly moving field to provide an update on current understanding, and the most recent insights into molecular and cellular mechanisms of vascular growth. The plenary lecture highlighted the integrative nature of the angiogenic process, whereas invited contributions from basic and clinician scientists described fundamental mechanisms and disease-associated issues of blood vessel formation, grouped under a number of themes to aid discussion. These articles will appeal to academic, clinical and pharmaceutical scientists interested in the molecular and cellular basis of angiogenesis, their modulation or dysfunction in human diseases, and application of these findings towards translational medicine.
    Biochemical Society Transactions 12/2011; 39(6):1551-5. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tetraspanins function as organizers of the cell surface by recruiting specific partner proteins into tetraspanin-enriched microdomains, which regulate processes such as cell adhesion, signalling and intracellular trafficking. Endothelial cells appear to express at least 23 of the 33 human tetraspanins, and a number of recent studies have demonstrated their importance in endothelial cell biology. Tetraspanin CD151 is essential for pathological angiogenesis, which may in part be due to regulation of its main partner proteins, the laminin-binding integrins α3β1, α6β1 and α6β4. CD9 and CD151 are essential for leucocyte recruitment during an inflammatory response, through the formation of pre-assembled nano-platforms containing the adhesion molecules ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule 1) and VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1), which ultimately coalesce to form docking structures around captured leucocytes. Tetraspanin CD63 also facilitates leucocyte capture by promoting clustering of the adhesion molecule P-selectin. Finally, Tspan12 is required for blood vessel development in the eye, through regulation of Norrin-induced Frizzled-4 signalling, such that Tspan12 mutations can lead to human disease. Future studies on these and other endothelial tetraspanins are likely to provide further novel insights into angiogenesis and inflammation.
    Biochemical Society Transactions 12/2011; 39(6):1667-73. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have in recent years described several endothelial-specific genes that mediate cell migration. These include Robo4 (roundabout 4), CLEC14A (C-type lectin 14A) and ECSCR (endothelial cell-specific chemotaxis regulator) [formerly known as ECSM2 (endothelial cell-specific molecule 2)]. Loss of laminar shear stress induces Robo4 and CLEC14A expression and an endothelial 'tip cell' phenotype. Low shear stress is found not only at sites of vascular occlusion such as thrombosis and embolism, but also in the poorly structured vessels that populate solid tumours. The latter probably accounts for strong expression of Robo4 and CLEC14A on tumour vessels. The function of Robo4 has, in the past, aroused controversy. However, the recent identification of Unc5B as a Robo4 ligand has increased our understanding and we hypothesize that Robo4 function is context-dependent. ECSCR is another endothelial-specific protein that promotes filopodia formation and migration, but, in this case, expression is independent of shear stress. We discuss recent papers describing ECSCR, including intracellular signalling pathways, and briefly contrast these with signalling by Robo4.
    Biochemical Society Transactions 12/2011; 39(6):1571-5. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RhoJ is an endothelially expressed member of the Cdc42 (cell division cycle 42) subfamily of small Rho GTPases. It is expressed in both the developing mammalian vasculature and the vascular beds of a number of adult tissues, with its expression regulated by the endothelial transcription factor ERG (ETS-related gene). RhoJ has been shown to regulate endothelial motility, tubulogenesis and lumen formation in vitro, and modulates the vascularization of Matrigel plugs in vivo. Both vascular endothelial growth factor and semaphorin 3E have been found to affect its activation. RhoJ has been shown to be a focal-adhesion-localized Rho GTPase which can modulate focal adhesion number, actomyosin contractility and activity of Cdc42 and Rac1. The present review discusses the biology of RhoJ with a focus on recent reports of its role in endothelial cells and angiogenesis.
    Biochemical Society Transactions 12/2011; 39(6):1606-11. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor endothelial markers (TEMs) that are highly expressed in human tumor vasculature compared with vasculature in normal tissue hold clear therapeutic potential. We report that the C-type lectin CLEC14A is a novel TEM. Immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence staining of tissue arrays has shown that CLEC14A is strongly expressed in tumor vasculature when compared with vessels in normal tissue. CLEC14A overexpression in tumor vessels was seen in a wide range of solid tumor types. Functional studies showed that CLEC14A induces filopodia and facilitates endothelial migration, tube formation and vascular development in zebrafish that is, CLEC14A regulates pro-angiogenic phenotypes. CLEC14A antisera inhibited cell migration and tube formation, suggesting that anti-CLEC14A antibodies may have anti-angiogenic activity. Finally, in endothelial cultures, expression of CLEC14A increased at low shear stress, and we hypothesize that low shear stress due to poor blood flow in the disorganized tumor vasculature induces expression of CLEC14A on tumor vessels and pro-angiogenic phenotypes.
    Oncogene 06/2011; 31(3):293-305. · 8.56 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

8k Citations
1,029.73 Total Impact Points


  • 2006–2014
    • University of Birmingham
      • • School of Immunity and Infection
      • • Institute for Biomedical Research
      Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2013
    • Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham
      Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2010
    • French Institute of Health and Medical Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2009
    • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
      • Institute of Biomedical Research
      Birmingham, ENG, United Kingdom
    • Université Bordeaux 1
      Talence, Aquitaine, France
  • 2008
    • Columbia University
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 1991–2008
    • University of Oxford
      • • Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
      • • Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
      • • Molecular Oncology Research Group
      Oxford, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1991–2006
    • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
      • • Department of Cellular Pathology
      • • Molecular Oncology Laboratory
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2005
    • Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
      • Clinic of Internal Medicine III
      Jena, Thuringia, Germany
    • ETH Zurich
      • Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences
      Zürich, ZH, Switzerland
    • University of Leipzig
      Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
  • 2003
    • University of Bordeaux
      Burdeos, Aquitaine, France
  • 2002
    • Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine
      Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
    • King's College London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2000
    • The Institute for Molecular Medicine
      Huntington Beach, California, United States
    • Medical Research Council (UK)
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
    • Democritus University of Thrace
      • Department of Internal Medicine I
      Komotiní, Anatoliki Makedonia kai Thraki, Greece
  • 1998
    • New York State
      New York City, New York, United States
    • Cea Leti
      Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes, France
  • 1997
    • University of Florence
      • Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Psicologia, Area del Farmaco e Salute del Bambino
      Florence, Tuscany, Italy
  • 1995
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Pharmacology
      Cambridge, ENG, United Kingdom