Genetics and immunology

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The Genetic and Immunology is led by Professor Jun Wei, who has research interests in the mental health arena, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Dr Antonia Pritchard is a Principal Investigator with research interests in melanoma. To achieve these research goals, their teams are located in a modern genetics laboratory, and share access to the top-class of biochemistry and proteomics laboratories of the Free Radical Research Facility and the Lipidomics & Proteomics Facility.

Professor Jun Wei content

Professor Jun Wei

Professor Wei is currently using molecular genetics, bioinformatics and immunogenetics to investigate the causes of schizophrenia, tumour immunity, immunological mechanisms of diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Prof Wei’s team is investigating these diverse conditions through three main avenues. Firstly, bioinformatic tools are being applied to develop new technologies for the immunological study of human conditions. Secondly, the interplay between environment and disease are being investigated, particularly examining the adverse immune responses to diets and gut bacteria. Thirdly, novel immunotherapies are being developed for treatments of the most malignant cancers such as liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, lung cancer and oesophageal cancer.

The identification of susceptibility genes, risk factors and biomarker tests that measure these traits will allow for prediction, precision treatment and prevention of these conditions.

Jun Wei’s current research activity:

  • Study of biomarkers for precision medication and early diagnosis of common diseases
  • Abnormal immune responses to wheat gluten and gut bacteria in schizophrenia
  • Abnormal function of B-lymphocytes in schizophrenia
  • Autoimmune mechanism of schizophrenia
  • Effects of maternal antibodies on neurodevelopment involved in schizophrenia
  • Identification of target molecules to develop anti-atherosclerosis vaccine to prevent heart attack
  • Identification of target molecules to develop powerful immunotherapy of highly malignant cancers

Jun Wei’s research team:

  • Dr Colette Mustard (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Dr Ryan McLean (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Mrs Philomena Hallford (research technician)
  • Ms Ruth Whelan (PhD student)
  • Mr Jacob Roberts (PhD student)
Dr Antonia Pritchard content

Dr Antonia Pritchard

Dr Antonia Pritchard is a melanoma researcher, with specific interests in the genetic susceptibility to the disease (familial and sporadic) and the immune response to tumours. Dr Pritchard’s current research interests include all subtypes of melanoma: cutaneous (skin), acral (palm of the hands/soles of the feet/nail beds), uveal (eye) and mucosal.

Dr Antonia Pritchard’s current research projects:

  • Identification of genetic mutation predisposing to melanoma in high density families
  • Investigation of genetic variants predisposing to spontaneous melanoma
  • Genomic investigation of melanomas (cutaneous, acral, ocular and mucosal)
  • Investigation of tumour epitopes eliciting memory T-cell and B-cell responses

Dr Antonia Pritchard’s research team:

  • Dr Sharon Hutchison (senior post-doctoral researcher)
  • Ms Chloe Rodgers (PhD student)

Further information:

If you would like further information about taking part in any of Dr Pritchard’s work or research projects, please email: melanoma.research@uhi.ac.uk