Grant Neilson

Grant graduated with a First Class Honours in an Msci in Biology from the University Of Southampton. For his Masters project he was involved in a study aiming to build an accurate polygenic risk score for age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. During this project he developed an interest for bioinformatics, and learned the true power of predictive algorithms in biology. During his time at University he was heavily involved in Immunology and upon graduation was awarded British Society for immunology undergraduate award for his dissertation and his continued contributions to the field.

He is working as a bioinformatics graduate research assistant within the complex disease epigenetics group, assisting on a whole range of projects.

Gina Commin

Gina completed a degree in Natural Sciences, specialising in Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, at the University of Cambridge. Following this she spent a few years working in clinical research including working for a company specialising in pharmacovigilance monitoring and then assisting in the management of a large multinational Haematology trial. She then undertook an MPhil  in Developmental Biology at the University of Cambridge. This was followed by a PhD in the lab of Dr Erica Watson, co-supervised by Prof Anne Ferguson Smith, exploring the potential genetic and epigenetic mechanisms responsible for the transgenerational inheritance of developmental abnormalities seen in mice with abnormal folate metabolism. Gina joins the Epigenetics group as a Research Assistant.

Michael Schrauben

Michael is a PhD student at the University of Exeter under the supervision of Professor Katie Lunnon and Dr Emma Dempster. He recently graduated from Imperial College London with a MRes degree in Cancer Biology and previously obtained a BSc (Hons) degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Greenwich. Through projects investigating the role of DNA methylation in ovarian cancer progression and the impact of alternative splicing on miRNA regulation, Michael developed a keen interest in epigenetics and gene editing tools. For his PhD, which is entitled “Functional characterisation of epigenetic loci implicated in dementia”, he intends to examine the consequences of loci methylation/de-methylation on cell function by using CRISPR epigenetic editing, as well as epigenomic and transcriptomic methods. 

Ffion James

Ffion James is a third year BSc Medical Sciences student at the University of Exeter, currently partaking in a Professional Training Year (PTY). For the first half of her PTY, she assisted with Dr Ryoichi Sadahiro’s research of postoperative delirium at the National Cancer Centre Japan in Tokyo. For the second half, she will be working under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Mill, continuing to research in delirium, with the project titled, “Epigenetic biomarker predicting the onset of postoperative delirium and subsequent cognitive decline”.

Yasaman Malekizadeh

Rob Flynn

My name is Rob Flynn and I am from Galway, Ireland. I acquired a BA in psychology from University College Dublin during which time I spent summers in Nice, France (2015) and New York (2016) working and travelling. Following my bachelor, I wanted to learn more about the fundamental underpinnings of many neurobiological diseases. To this end, I applied for the MSc in Fundamental Neuroscience at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. During this time I was introduced to a huge variety of topics, one of which was the fascinating area of epigenetics. Since my early years as an undergraduate, I bore an interest in schizophrenia. Accordingly, upon seeing the emerging body of research combining schizophrenia and epigenetic mechanisms, I wanted to become a part of it. As such, I conducted a 9 month internship at the complex disease epigenetics group under the supervision of Dr. Emma Dempster. During this time I worked with CRISPR based cell models. I am now employed under Prof. Jon Mill as a research technician. Currently, my primary role is to carry out Illumina methylation arrays for many of our collaborators. Regarding hobbies, I am a drummer. However, sadly, my drum kit is in Galway so I will have to remain separated from it until I stop moving around constantly! Secondly, I enjoy sports and train in the sport of Olympic weightlifting.

Greg Wheildon

“I graduated with a BSc in Pharmacology from the University of Bristol and spent time afterwards helping with the management of my family’s business. I returned to academia to study for a MSc in Molecular Neuroscience, also at the University of Bristol. It was here that my interest in dementia research grew and my research project investigated the impact of MicroRNAs on neuronal differentiation and the implications this has for dementia. My PhD investigates epigenetic changes in the HOXA gene cluster in Alzheimer’s Disease

Adam Smith

Research Fellow

University of Exeter – College of Medicine and Health

Adam graduated in Medical Sciences at the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health, in 2014, where he found a particular interest in genetics and neurology. Adam spent a year as an associate genetic technician for the Royal Devon and Exeter Genetic NHS service as part of his degree. He undertook a PhD under the supervision of Dr Katie Lunnon and Professor Jonathan Mill.  This refined the extent of various epigenetic changes in the ANK1 gene in Alzheimer’s disease, relating this information to both levels of gene expression and characteristic measures of disease stage. Adam completed his PhD in June 2017 and is currently a postdoc within the group looking at exploring the epigenetic similarities between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.


Anna Migdalska-Richards


I graduated with a BSc in Molecular Biology from the University of Warsaw, before carrying out an MSc project aimed at studying the molecular basis of male intellectual disability at the National Research Institute of Mother and Child in Warsaw. As part of my master’s degree Ispent a year abroad, first as a Socrates-Erasmus scholar at Manchester University, then at the University of Verona on a scholarship from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and finally as a FEBS scholar at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Monterotondo. Subsequently, I did my PhD in Developmental Biology at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute at Cambridge University, investigating Monosomy 21 and Sotos Syndrome mouse models, with the aim of unravelling the pathophysiology of these human genomic disorders. Next, I joined the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at UCL as a postdoctoral research associate, leading two research projects, the first designed to determine the role of glucocerebrosidase 1 (Gba1) mutations in the development of Parkinson’s disease, and the second aimed at investigating the potential of the molecular chaperone ambroxol as a putative drug for treatment of Parkinson’s disease. I joined the Complex Disease Epigenetics Group in February 2018 to work on the MRC project investigating regulatory genomic variation associated with schizophrenia in human neuronal nuclei. Recently, Anna was appointed as a Lecturer in the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health. In her current research, Anna combines genetic and epigenetic approaches, with the aim of identifying novel pathways involved in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis, new putative drug targets and lab-based diagnostic biomarkers.

I am currently looking for a talented individual interested in a neuroscience PhD on “The epigenetics of Parkinson’s disease: searching for novel drug targets”. This project will be part of the MRC GW4 BioMed Doctoral Training Partnership. For more information, please visit Before applying, I strongly encourage interested applicants to contact me directly at

Jonathan Davies

Originally from Burton-on-Trent in the Midlands, Jonathan studied for a BSc in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Southampton, specialising in the theory of developmental origins of health and disease. He then moved to the University of the West of England to study for an MSc in Biomedical Sciences: Cellular Pathology, graduating in 2013, with an in-depth research project focused on triple negative breast cancer and mechanisms of metastatic initiation in peripheral tumour tissue. Jonathan then worked for the At-Bristol interactive science centre where he co-ordinated training courses for primary and secondary school science teachers to improve their scientific knowledge, whilst also participating himself in public engagement through science communication and volunteering in outreach projects. Most recently, Jonathan has been based at the University of Plymouth, Peninsula School of Dentistry, where he has studied for a PhD in Oral and Dental Sciences, under the supervision of Dr Bing Hu, investigating how specific cell populations within salivary gland tissue may be damaged through exposure to ionising radiation and Sjogren’s syndrome and potential methods to initiate tissue regeneration.

Whilst completing his thesis, Jonathan made a side step in January 2018 into the field of epigenetics as a research technician/assistant within the group of Professor Jonathan Mill, working on an MRC project investigating regulatory genomic variation associated with schizophrenia in human neuronal nuclei. Most recently, in February 2019, Jonathan has started work as a Research Fellow on a new project that hopes to establish the role of epigenetics during foetal stages of neurodevelopment as a potential cause for autism spectrum disorders.