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Our goal is to identify the molecular underpinnings of disease and apply this knowledge for the discovery of new drug targets or approaches for patient stratification.

Sample vial in envelope

Many chronic inflammatory and degenerative diseases are heterogeneous in nature and as a result are difficult to treat. A major goal at the Kennedy Institute is to establish a new understanding of disease based on underlying cause rather than disease symptoms alone.

Central to this is the analysis of tissue samples from patient cohorts in a range of diseases including inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, fibrotic disorders, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

We apply immune phenotyping and molecular technologies to redefine disease at a molecular level and reveal disease-associated pathways that inform development of new drugs. We are also developing innovative approaches for integration of molecular data sets with patient health records for discovery of improved biomarkers that predict disease progression or response to therapy.

Our work in this area is supported by close relationships with the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, the Translational Gastroenterology Unit and other clinical departments within the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and along the M40 corridor that provide access to patient tissue samples.

Through collaboration with clinical partners we will perform signal seeking experimental studies for biomarker and drug target validation. This is supported by numerous funding agencies. In particular, with support from the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research and in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, we recently launched the Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP) that will provide infrastructure to support the pull through of basic science findings from the Kennedy Institute into proof-of-concept experimental medicine trials in the area of inflammatory arthritis.

To facilitate early adoption of new therapeutics across a range of clinically distinct inflammatory diseases, A-TAP will also seek to repurpose drugs for new indications and apply innovate concepts in trial design such as cluster trials, where one drug is tried out in a range of different diseases.

Other translational research programmes and consortia led by Kennedy Institute investigators include: