Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term mainly used to describe two conditions; Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis which together affect more than 300,000 people in the UK. The ultimate aims of Luke's project are to identify cell types and immune phenotypes that underlie IBD genetic risk and to understand how these affect disease prognosis. This research will be conducted using novel statistical methodology and experimental approaches such as single-cell RNA sequencing and mass cytometry. The project will make use of Oxford's extensive patient cohorts, and Luke will work with clinicians and experimentalists throughout the Medical Sciences Division to link genotype to immune phenotype at scale.
Commenting on his award Luke said "I am incredibly excited to begin this project. Throughout my career I have identified over a hundred genetic risk variants for IBD, but this project will allow me to dig into what effect these variants actually have on the human immune system. Understanding the genetics of IBD will require combining statistical Big Data science with detailed molecular immunology, and this generous support from the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society will allow us to generate the data and forge the collaborations we need to make this a reality".
Luke will start his fellowship on 8th January 2018 and he will be based in the Kennedy, with a secondary affiliation to the Oxford Big Data Institute (BDI). Luke will collaborate with the growing number of computational researchers at the Kennedy Institute, including Dr Steve Sansom.