skip to content

Cambridge Biosciences DTP PhD Programme


Department of Biochemistry

Research theme: Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health


My research investigates the role of microglia during inflammation and neurodegeneration. Particularly, I am looking at how Alarmins within the brain activate and recruit microglia to sites of damage or inflammation. Outside of the lab, I am president of St John's college beekeepers, where our honey harvests have drawn quite a bit of interest from those looking to sweeten up their meals! When I don't have my beesuit, I also captain the University of Cambridge Pool and Snooker club B team (pool). Between potting honey and potting balls, I also co-run Hughes Hall bouldering club, enjoy cycling, and constantly forget where I have placed my tea.


Project Title:

The Role of Alarmins and Opsonins in Microglial Inflammation and Phagocytosis

Project Summary:

Alarmins are signals released by damaged or inflamed cells that recruit and activate immune cells. So, in effect, alarmins raise the alarm when the body is damaged or inflamed. In the brain, alarmins can induce microglia to carry out an immune response. Overactivation of microglia can cause them to become neurotoxic, although why this happens is unclear. Understanding what alarmins orchestrate microglial immunity will help address how microglia can become neurotoxic. As calreticulin can translocate to the surface of apoptotic and cancerous cells and act as an alarmin for peripheral macrophages, I am investigating whether calreticulin can be released from cells and act as an alarmin for microglia. 

Opsonisation is the process whereby opsonins (soluble extracellular proteins) bind to the surface of cells and encourage phagocytes to phagocytose them. Work by Cockram et al. showed calreticulin to opsonise bacteria, which enabled their phagocytosis by microglia. Fricker et al. similarly published work demonstrating calreticulin to opsonise neurons for microglial uptake. I am investigating whether calreticulin can drive microglial synaptic pruning of neurons whilst preserving the rest of the neuron. 


Key publications: 

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

Professor Guy Charles Brown

Staff Photo

Contact Details

Job Titles

PhD Student