Our major research interest focuses on factors that influence gene expression and their impact on human disease. We are particularly interested in mRNA processing (mRNA splicing, differential polyadenylation) and how this may affect disease phenotype.


I gained my PhD in Molecular Genetics from University College London in 1994, and set up the RNA-mediated mechanisms of Disease Group at the University of Exeter Medical School in 2006. My team have a special focus on how RNA biology can influence both normal and disease states, from large-scale –omics approaches down to detailed assessment of specific mechanisms in specific genes.

After completing my undergraduate degree in Applied Genetics at Liverpool University in 2000 I moved to Portugal, where I stayed for just over a decade.  During this time I worked in the family business, making bespoke furniture and restoring antiques.

When I returned to the UK, I joined the University of Exeter Medical School as a research technician working with both the ‘RNA-mediated mechanisms of disease’ and ‘Epidemiology and public health’ research groups.

Subsequently I was offered the opportunity to pursue a part-time PhD alongside my technician role, which I gladly accepted and am currently in my second year of study.

I am researching changes to the insulin producing beta cells in Type 2 Diabetes. Recent studies in mice have shown that these cells can revert to either pre-beta cell types or switch into other types of pancreatic hormone cell. This causes the beta cells to lose their ability to secrete insulin, with devastating effects on blood glucose regulation. Our aim is to see if this process also occurs in human cells and to see how the physical conditions associated with Type 2 Diabetes, such as hyperglycaemia, inflammation, hypoxia and toxic fatty acids, might drive changes to mRNA processing, thereby explaining these changes to beta cell identity and function.

Shahnaz Haque 

My research is focused on understanding the mechanistic basis underlying the associations of non-coding RNAs in ageing and type 2 diabetes. In particular, I am working on understanding the role of circRNAs as potential modifiers of the expression of genes with a role in human ageing, mouse models,  in vitro models of senescence. As an exemplar disease of the ageing, I am also investigating the potential role of circRNAs in type 2 diabetes and β-cell function.

E m a d  M a n n i


I gained my Bachelor degree in Medical Applied Sciences from Jazan University in Saudi Arabia and my Master`s in Biochemistry from Windsor university in Canada in 2015. My interest is to learn more about how genes is regulated in healthy and disease states. Currently, I am working on how microRNAs are involved in senescent cells and aging using molecular biology and bioinformatics techniques.     

James Brewer 

I am researching the molecular mechanisms that underpin the development of paraoesophageal hernia (PEH) in the elderly. This disorder occurs in individuals that are otherwise quite healthy, but can have significant effects on mortality and quality of life. My research has a focus on uncovering the specific molecular changes that occur at the mRNA level in herniated tissue compared with non-herniated ligament in the same individual.

Zhuofan Mou


I completed my BSc in Mathematics from University of Exeter in 2018 and achieved a MSc in Mathematical Modelling from University College London in 2019. My research interest lies in using mathematical modelling, data analysis and machine learning methods for analysing empirically-generated and publicly-available genetic expression data; evaluating and developing promising models that can improve the accuracy of detection and prediction of different diseases. My project aims to improve the accuracy of early prostate cancer detection, classification and prognosis by applying mathematical and machine learning techniques to transcriptomic expression data on a genome-wide scale.

Ryan Frankum 

Laura Bramwell 

I completed my BSc Biomedical Science at the University of the West of England in 2015. RNA biology and the area of alternative splicing in particular are key areas of interest for me. My project aims to compare early passage with senescent cells. Senescent cells will be treated with compounds to reverse aging phenotypes that are implicated in disease.

I graduated from the University of Reading with a BSc Biochemistry and an MRes Biomedical Research. During this time, my research was focused toward the problem of obesity and adipose tissue dysfunction. After a brief stint as a lab technician and a researcher in the Adipocyte Biology group at Exeter, I joined Team RNA to study the mechanisms by which our cells “age”. During my PhD I am hoping to use drug repurposing, rational small molecule design and artificial intelligence to attempt to find new compounds that affect cellular senescence.

Merlin Davies-Abraham 


My research currently concerns coronavirus as a lab technician. This includes linking viral load to COVID-19 severity, and further developing a test to determine whether presence of the virus in a patient is still infectious. My role started whilst completing my undergraduate degree finals. I studied BSc medical sciences at the University of Exeter. I am looking to embark on a PhD and am excited about pursuing a career in novel RNA and post-transciptional modification research.


Jon Locke PhD

Alice Holly PhD

Faer Morrison PhD

Karen Johnstone PhD

Eva Latorre PhD

Jed Lye

Cyrielle Tonneau PhD

The Science & 

Mathematics University

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