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The University of Southampton

Research Group: Clinical Neuroscience Research group

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Our research spans numerous clinical areas, including major human infectious diseases and diseases that affect the central nervous system. Our research covers the study of clinical and environmental factors that impair brain development and impact on long-term neurological and neurodevelopmental function

Research focus

The Clinical Neuroscience Group is part of the University-wide Southampton Neurosciences Group (SoNG), established in 2001 to provide a focus for collaborative, interdisciplinary and applied neuroscience. SoNG is one of the University's Multidisciplinary Research Groups within the IfLS and integrates the region’s major clinical services, including The Wessex Neurological Centre, the Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN) and the Memory Assessment and Research Centre (MARC).

Neuroscientists are increasingly acknowledging the importance of the first few years of life for the development of pathways in the brain. Our research covers the study of clinical and environmental factors that impair brain development and impact on long-term neurological and neurodevelopmental function in children who were both at high risk and/or have suffered adverse effects in early childhood

We also focus on the pathology, prevention and repair strategies for damaged neural tissue. Neurodegeneration can be initiated at all stages of life, including before and around the time of birth, in midlife and in old age. Neurodegeneration can be triggered by a sudden event (e.g. a stroke) or occur over a long period of time (e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease, age-related macular degeneration).

Neurodegenerative diseases are increasingly common, as a consequence of increasing life expectancy, and a current lack of effective treatments. Our clinical research programme is aimed at a greater understanding of the biological basis and treatment of neurodegenerative disease with a number of interrelated projects including drug clinical trials, immunotherapy, tissue engineering and neuroimaging. The clinical studies interact with laboratory-based research which aims to increase our knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases which investigate the main risk factors (e.g. ageing, genotype and neuroinflammation) and the repair potential of stem cells using animal models and human tissue.

Key achievements

In Alzheimer's disease (AD), we have shown that systemic inflammation and raised peripheral pro-inflammatory cytokines accelerate long-term cognitive decline which, combined with collaborative genome wide association studies has revealed the importance of innate immune pathways in late onset AD.

We have challenged the dominant pathogenetic hypothesis of AD by demonstrating variable effects of Aβ immunisation on plaque removal and, crucially, that plaque removal is not sufficient to halt cognitive decline.

Our discovery that brain solutes are eliminated along basement membranes of microvasculature in the brain parenchyma may lead to new therapeutic strategies that facilitate this process, preventing vascular Aβ deposition.

In collaboration with the Human Genetics group, ophthalmologists have helped define the aetiology of age-related macular degeneration in gene association studies.

In hearing research, we have shown that comprehension and expression of language and reading are improved by exposure to universal newborn screening, work that led to the recommendation by the US Preventative Services Taskforce that screening be adopted across the USA.

Collaborations and enterprise

Our research includes several collaborations with the Schools of Psychology and Engineering Sciences within University of Southampton.

We also have collaborations with UCL, Nottingham and Birmingham Universities.

We have international collaborations with researchers at:

  • Karolinksa Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden
  • the Brain Research Institute/ Florey Neurosciences Institutes, Melborne, Australia
  • the Centre for Growth and Development in Zurich, Switzerland
  • the Centre for Sleep Science, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  • SIOP-E, the Brain Tumour Group of the European Collaborative Paediatric Oncology Group.
Clincial Neuroscience
Clincial Neuroscience
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