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Annapoorna Kannan

Postdoc Research Scientist

I received my Masters in Medical Biochemistry and PhD in Medical Biochemistry- Endocrinology (interdisciplinary) from University of Madras, India. During my PhD, I held a Senior Research Fellowship from Lady Tata Memorial Trust (LTMT).

Before joining Oxford University, I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Centre for Neurosciences, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Centre (TTUHSC), Texas, USA where I undertook research projects to delineate the significance of key RNA binding proteins (RBPs) involved in RNA processing and metabolism and how loss of these functions cause genomic instability and neurodegeneration in Motor Neuron Diseases like Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Type 4 (ALS4) phenotype.

In Nov 2021, I joined the Organelle Biology Team of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ARUK/ODDI), Centre for Medicines Discovery, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist. I developed assays related to endolysosomal pathways which become dysregulated in various neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I was involved in the target validation of lead compounds by performing various functional assays for endolysosomal phenotypic screening using high content imaging in iPSCs derived neuronal models.

I pursued my research interest in neuroinflammation by subsequently joining in Neuro-immune Interactions Group led by Dr Lahiru Handunnetthi at the Centre for Human Genetics in Nov 2023 as a Senior Postdoctoral Research Scientist. Several studies have implicated genes involved in regulating immune response pathways play an important role in the pathogenesis of Schizophrenia. In particular, genome wide association studies have shown Interferon Regulatory Factor 3 (IRF3) is a risk gene for developing Schizophrenia. IRF3 plays a central role in immune responses to viral infections through activation of type I interferon (IFN) signalling.  Accordingly, my project aims to investigate IFN signalling in IPSC derived microglial and cortical neurons, and to test the feasibility of targeting these pathways in future therapies. This project is funded by the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre.