Personal profile

Current Research Interests

Prions are a type of protein that can induce normal proteins in the brain to fold abnormally, leading to cellular death and the development of prion diseases, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Prions are infectious proteins that are devoid of any genetic material, making them different from bacteria and viruses. 

Primarily using histopathology and related molecular biological techniques I aim to determine exactly how prions cause neurodegeneration. Due to their infectious nature, prions provide a tractable and well-characterized neurodegeneratve system within which we can interrogate the roles of various cell types, molecules and pathways involved in brain health and disease by for example the use of transgenic models. My ultimate goal is to cure prion disease and prevent neurodegeneration.

My major research findings have established and defined specific roles of various supporting cells within the brain called glia. I have identified unique signatures for each prion strain of agent and host response through upregulated expression of the adhesion molecule CD44 by astrocytes. I have also definitifely proven the neuroprotective nature of microglia by characterising the response of completely microglia-deficient animals to prion disease.

My research in a nutshell

Prion diseases are prototypical protein-misfolding neurodegenerative disorders. Using this model we study how protein-misfolding within the brain results in activation of the supporting glia cells, impacts upon brain function and ultimately leads to loss of the connections (synapses) and death of brain cells (neurons). The goal of my research is to understand how this happens and how other infections and activation of the immune system may influence neurodegeneration. the ultimate goal of my research is to identify potential therapeutic treatments for these currently untreatable conditions.

Biography

Barry joined the Institute of Animal Health Neuropathogenesis Unit (IAH-NPU) in 2000. Here he worked on transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) or prion infectious agents and production of prion protein specific transgenic models for application in prion research. Here Barry was trained extensively in the application of infectious prion models and evaluation of their clinical and neuropathological outcomes and subsequent interventional strategies. Barry has been responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate training since 2012 and was most recently promoted to Lecturer in 2021. His research aims to identify how various cell types are involved in the maintenance of brain health and responses to neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration such as during prion infection.

Teaching

Biomedical Sciences Honours (Project Laboratory Supervisor)

BVM&S Veterinary Medicine (Year 1&2 Assessment)

Research students

PhD

Sasha Pokrovskaya 2023-

Emma Green (Advisor) 2020-

Reiss Pal 2020-2023

MSc

Clara Gomez-Dunlop 2022

Joe Reynolds 2020

Christianus Wijaya 2019

Honours/Veterinary

Lauryn Walmsley-Rowe 2023

Claire Banner 2022

Rebecca Bruce 2021

Danica Ariyadasa-Sáez 2019

Laura Tetlow 2016

Caroline Wood 2015

Lester Thoo 2014

Kah Yap 2013

Mark Laloo 2013

Matthew Helsby 2012

 

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), The University of Edinburgh

2016

Award Date: 14 Jul 2016

Neuroscience, Master of Science, University of Edinburgh

2007

Bachelor of Science (Honours), The University of Edinburgh

1998

Keywords

  • RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Prion diseases
  • Dementia
  • Glia
  • QR180 Immunology
  • Innate immunity
  • Dendritic cells
  • Myeloid heamatopoeisis
  • QH426 Genetics
  • Conditional transgenesis

College Research Themes

  • College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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