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.


Marta Nabais

MartaMarta 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



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 – 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.


Rosie Bamford

Rosie graduated with an MPhys in Physics from the University of St Andrews. Subsequently, she joined the Physical Sciences of Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences (PSIBS) Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Birmingham, where she studied for an integrated MSc and PhD. Her PhD project focused on designing DNA probes for in vitro SNP […]

Dorothea Seiler Vellame

Thea graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Exeter in 2017. In 2016, she carried out a BBSRC funded Bioinformatics Research Placement at the University of Manchester, in which she studied the recombination of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

She is a bioinformatics PhD student in the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health, under the supervision of Dr Eilis Hannon, Professor Jonathan Mill and Dr David Collier, funded by the BBSRC and Eli Lilly. Her main research interest is reference based cellular deconvolution and data quality control.

She also has a strong interest in reproducible science.


Szi Kay Leung

Szi Kay Leung is a PhD student at the University of Exeter, under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Mill, Dr Eilis Hannon, Dr Katie Lunnon and Professor David Collier (Eli Lilly and Company Ltd). Prior to this, she graduated with an integrated MBiochem in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford where she completed her final year project at NDORMS (Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculosketal Sciences) on the regulation of Nerve Growth Factor, pain mediator, in myeloma-bone microenvironment. With a founded interest in epigenetics and Alzheimer’s disease, her PhD project entitled ‘Functional genomic characterisation of Alzheimer’s disease risk genes’ will examine the role of alternative splicing and RNA isoforms in AD by using a range of genetic, transcriptomic and epigenetic analyses.

Gemma Shireby

Gemma Shireby is a PhD student at the University of Exeter, under the supervision of Professor Jonathon Mill and Dr Eilis Hannon. She graduated with a first class degree in BSc biology with psychology from Queen Mary, University of London and went on to study an MSc in “Genes, environment and development” at King’s College London. During her PhD she is using novel bioinformatic and computational approaches to explore the regulatory genomic consequences of genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

Georgina Mansell

Georgina graduated from the University of Exeter with a first class degree in Natural Sciences in 2017. During this time, she studied a wide range of topics in science and mathematics and discovered her interest in programming. In her final year project, she chose to work on a bioinformatics project with Dr Eilis Hannon in […]