William James

Professor of Virology | HEFCE | Brasenose College | william.james@path.ox.ac.uk

Sally Cowley

Head, James Martin Stem Cell Facility | sally.cowley@path.ox.ac.uk

Sally Cowley joined the Sir William Dunn School  of Pathology as a Wellcome Trust Career Re-Entry Fellow in 2007, engaged in a program of research into the differentiation of human Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived macrophages and their applications for HIV studies. With William James, she set up the James Martin Stem Cell Facility, affiliated to the Oxford Stem Cell Institutefor work with human Pluripotent Stem cells.

Collaborative projects she works on within this facility include:  iPSc-derived macrophages as a genetically-modifiable model system for understanding macrophage biology; developing iPSc-microglia to study the contribution of microglia to neurodegenerative disease; generating iPS cells from Parkinson’s Disease patients as part of a large scale Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre research programme funded by Parkinson’s UK; EU IMI StemBANCC, which established a panel of iPS derived cell lines from 500 patients as a platform for cellular phenotypic drug screening with industry partners; MRC DPUK Experimental Medicine Dementia Stem Cell Network, a UK-wide network (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh) using iPSc for modelling dementia.


Maria Karabova

DPhil Student | Lincoln College | maria.karabova@path.ox.ac.uk

I am a DPhil student sponsored by the Oxford-E P Abraham Graduate Scholarship. My primary interest lies in the molecular pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, I am studying the processing of tau-protein aggregates by human iPSc-derived macrophages and microglia.  

My academic journey started with a detour in medicine. During the studies, however, I realized that the methods and medication available, particularly with regards to the diseases of the brain, can often leave doctors applying plasters to gunshot wounds. A search for real advancements in the way we treat brain disorders led me to science. I completed my neuroscience training at the King’s College London in 2018 with a year in Industry at the UCI MIND Institute in California, USA. There, under the mentorship and supervision from Prof Carl Cotman, I worked on several projects, including the investigation of IL12/23-induced modulation of synaptic plasticity, elucidation of effective exercise patterns for long-term memory formation, and targeting H3K9me3 for treatment of cognitive decline associated with ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Our work on the effect of early-life exercise on late-life cognitive reserve received the Gold Award in STEM for Britain 2018.  

Javier Gilbert jaramillo

DPhil Student | Linacre College | javier.gilbertjaramillo@linacre.ox.ac.uk

I finished my major in Biology with honours from the ESPOL Polytechnic University (Guayaquil – Ecuador) in 2014. During my undergraduate studies, I collaborated with the Antarctic Chilean Institute researching on genetic biomarkers of climate change and pollution using the Antarctic sea urchin (S. neumayeri) as a model. In 2015, I was awarded with a scholarship from the Ecuadorian National Government to conduct my MRes studies in Translational Neurology at UCL, where I joined Isaacs’ lab. My research consisted on the development of a biomarker for C9orf72 ALS/FTD. After obtaining a distinction degree, I was recruited as a Junior Lecturer/Researcher in the Faculty of Life Sciences (ESPOL). My field of research included biomarker analysis for novel nutritional therapies in neuropsychiatry disorders. I conducted one of the first pilot studies using the ketogenic diet as a treatment for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders in collaboration with Christopher Palmer, MD-PhD (McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School). Currently, I remain holding the scholarship from the Ecuadorian National Government to conduct my DPhil studies at the Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford. 


My field of research is related to nutrient energy metabolism of the early human brain in health and disease. Currently, my DPhil research project is aiming to elucidate the connection between native immunity and metabolic dysregulation/shift in progenitor brain cells during Zika virus infection, as the cause of different brain abnormalities, particularly microcephaly.

Szymon Stodolak

DPhil Student | szymon.stodolak@path.ox.ac.uk

Szymon is a DPhil student in Interdisciplinary Bioscience (BBSRC DTP in collaboration with Eli Lilly).  

Neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, affect millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately, there has been little to no success in developing treatments to prevent the onset or slow the progress of these diseases. Inflammation within the central nervous system can affect the course of neurodegenerative diseases, but – at the moment – we lack a representative human in vitro system to suitably mirror the neuroinflammatory state. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) can be generated from human donor skin or blood cells and turned into different brain cell types.  

Szymon’s project will address the above limitation by culturing different human iPSC brain cell types together in a three-dimensional scaffold, including brain immune cells, microglia. This will enable us to study neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration ‘in a dish’.  Szymon graduated from The University of Nottingham (MSci Neuroscience). During his studies, he developed an interest in cell culture models by working on in vitro conditions which could promote stem cell characteristics in cancer cells (thanks to Dr Dr. Androutsellis-Theotokis). During a placement year at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Institute at University College London, he was focusing on culturing primary rat microglia in serum free conditions (thanks to Dr Lorenza Magno). When finishing off the time in Nottingham, his MSci thesis indicated that a polygenic risk score generated from microglial genes can partly predict the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (thanks to Prof Kevin Morgan).