Prof John Quinn PhD

Professor Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology


    Regulation of Gene Expression in the Brain

    The majority of CNS disorders are caused by gene & environment interactions, whereby a strong genetic component magnifies the effect of the environmental insult. We have initiated the characterisation of how signalling pathways interact with such genetic variants resulting in differential changes in the cells transcriptome which underlie a specific CNS disorder or mental health problem. Such analysis is byzantine, many variants are in non-coding DNA and can be located 100,000s of bases from the gene(s) they regulate and the environmental challenges can be pharmacological, physiological or psychological. We therefore integrate a wealth of bioinformatic and genetic data to delineate key regions of the genome involved in a particular cellular process. We then apply a rigorous set of molecular and biochemical protocols to validate our models. This methodology has been applied to mechanistically understand how a variety of neuropsychiatric and neurological conditions progress. Our current studies build upon a body of work explaining the role of repetitive DNA as both risk factors for CNS disorders and their action as transcriptional regulatory domains. This has facilitated our most recent studies of retrotransposons. Retrotransposons are considered to be activated and indeed mobilised in a number of age related diseases such as dementia & cognitive decline and are hypothesised to in part drive neurodegenerative disease.

    Our research is updated at
    University page

    Mental and Behaviour Research Group page

    Our lab Facebook page

    This research in addition to adding to basic understanding of how these diseases progress, will also give insights into therapeutic windows for intervention. The research is the subject of various IP and patents. The group collaborates actively with industry in addition to tradition routes of funding from the Pain Relief Foundation (Walton), BBSRC, MRC and the Wellcome Trust

    Research Grants
    • Retrotransposon mobilisation in Pain
    • Wellcome Trust Four-Year PhD Studentship with the Cellular and Molecular Physiology PhD Programme
    • Andrzej Wlodarski Memorial Research Fund in Motor Neurone Disease
    • The role of the activity of endogenous transposable elements in the pathogenesis of ALS
    • Effects of Acute Ischaemia on Thalamocortical Synaptic Transmission, in vitro.
    • Four year PhD programme in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.
    • Development of a mouse trigeminal pain model
    • Application of automated, high-content, live-cell, fluorescence imaging in multidisciplinary studies of epithelial, neuronal and stem cell function.
    • High resolution analysis of phenotype in manipulated complex tissues.
    • Delivery of artificial chromosomes in vivo via a virus vector system.
    • Exploitation of Genome Wide Association Biomarkers for Cognitive Decline
    • Winter Neuropeptide Conference
    • High resolution analysis of phenotype in manipulated complex tissues.
    • Transcriptional regulation mediated by polymorphic domains termed variable number tandem repeats.
    • Genetic predisposition to breast cancer
    • Prediction and analysis of a regulatory SNP map of Major Depression Disorder.
    • Four Year PhD Programme in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.
    • Expression and function of the tachykinins in epilepsy.
    • Establishment of a novel technology: Proximity Ligation
    • The mechanisms by which polymorphic domains in the 5HTT gene, potenially correlated with behavioural disorders, modulate gene expression.
    • Molecular analysis of the role of the tachykinins in pain, reward and anxiety.
    • Prediction and analysis of genetic variation which would affect expression of candidate genes associated with Motor Neurone Disease
    • A sensor system to assess the regulation of latency and associated post-herpetic neuralgia in varicella zoster virus
    • 11th Multidisciplinary International Conference of Neuroscience and Biological Psychiatry "Stress and Behaviour"? 1st International Stress and Behaviour Society.
    • Four-year PhD programme in cellular and molecular physiology.
    • Prenatal and infancy origins of biological and social-cognitive processes in disruptive behaviour problems in children aged 7 - 9 years.
    • The expression and function of the neuropeptides substance P and neurokinin-A in nociceptive pathways.
    • Can the genotype of the human serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) generate differential epigenetic signatures over the gene response to exposure to cocaine?
    Research Collaborations


    External: Institute of Psychiatry, University of London

    Honourary Visiting Professorship.

    Collaboration on function of polymorphic DNA


    External: AstraZeneca Pharmceuticals

    Shared PhD student

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