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, my supervisor pointed me to Jonathan Mill and Emma Dempster in Exeter who are doing work in just that! 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


Anna 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 her master’s degree she spent 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, she did her 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, Anna 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. Anna 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.

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.

Marta Nabais

Marta is a recipient of QUEX PhD scholarship first edition – a joint PhD programme between the University of Queensland and the University of Exeter. She holds a BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics, from the University of Lisbon and a joint European MSc in Neuroscience (Neurasmus), from the Vrije University Amsterdam, Université de Bordeaux and Charité Universitäsmedizin Berlin. She started her PhD under supervision of Prof. Naomi Wray and Prof. Jonathan Mill in January 2018, in the context of the recently funded BRAIN-MEND project. Broadly, her current project aims at dissecting the etiological overlap between neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. More specifically, she will be applying meta-analytical methods to DNA methylation data across cohorts of different disorders.

Byron Creese

Research Fellow

E-mail: b.creese@exeter.ac.uk


Byron’s background is in psychology, which he studied to MSc level in 2006 before undertaking his PhD in 2009 at King’s College London in Prof Clive Ballard’s group.  A major theme of Byron’s work in Prof Ballard’s group is understanding the genetic basis of neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia and the overlap with other disorders across the lifespan. He has set up several international collaborations to work towards this aim. Byron moved to Exeter in November 2016 and, still working in Prof Ballard’s group, is now starting to extend his work into epigenetics by partnering with Prof Mill’s group.

Aside from genetics Byron is the project manager for the SMART-AD drug repurposing project, a member PROTECT study steering group (a major UK study examining factors influencing cognitive aging – www.protectstudy.org.uk) and he played a leading role in the management of the South London and Maudsley Care Home Research Network while at King’s (affiliated with the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at King’s).  Byron has also worked on several major industry and government funded clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of various pharmacological and psychosocial interventions for neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia.