Meet the researchers

The research team at the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Imperial College London includes theme leaders and co-investigators and is led by Phillip Bennett, MD, PhD., working along side participating Principal Scientific Investigators and Clinical Service and Patient Cohorts Phillip Bennett, MD, PhD. 

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology to Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust at Queen Charlotte’s and Hammersmith Hospitals. He is Director of the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, and Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust Research Director for Women's and Children's Health.

Phil Bennett has an international reputation for research into basic science, translational and clinical aspects of parturition following nearly four decades of work particularly focusing upon the relationships between infection, inflammation and preterm labor. He and his team have made a series of advances linking endocrine, mechanical and inflammatory mediators in parturition, which are now universally accepted as key to the onset of labor. He established one of the first preterm birth prevention services in the UK, providing the framework for a series of studies of diagnostics and interventions which have improved outcomes in women at risk of preterm labor. More recently his work has focused upon understanding the relationships between the innate and adaptive immune systems, bacterially derived danger signals, and the pregnancy microbiome upon the risk of prematurity, their interactions with therapeutic strategies and the identification of a range of biomarkers for clinical prediction and prevention.

Dr M. BottoProfessor Marina Botto, FMedSci. Professor of Rheumatology, Director of the Centre for Complement and Inflammation Research, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London

Marina Botto is Professor of Rheumatology (Honorary Consultant), Director of the Centre for Complement and Inflammation Research and Director of Bioservices, Imperial College London. Her research focuses on complement biology and systemic autoimmunity. Her research led to the hypothesis that inherited defects in the pathways for clearance of cellular debris and immune complexes predispose to the development of connective tissue disease (the “waste disposal” hypothesis). She has also pioneered the idea that the complement component C1q can act outside the complement system and has roles in ageing, angiogenesis and cancer. Her work, using a variety of experimental models of tissue damage has opened the way to the design of targeted complement inhibitor strategies that will have the potential to treat individuals suffering from a wide range of chronic inflammatory conditions. Key achievements include: i) demonstration that uncontrolled C3 activation is the cause of glomerulonephritis associated with factor H deficiency; ii) development of the first in-vivo model of atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS); iii) proof-of-concept that C5 is critical in aHUS. This study led to the successful use of C5 inhibition in this previously untreatable condition.

Professor Anne Dell, CBE FRS FMedSci. Professor of Carbohydrate Biochemistry and Head of the Department of Life Sciences,  Imperial College London.

A key objective of Professor Dell’s research is to provide the structural underpinning for national and international collaborative programs of research that are seeking to define the biological roles that carbohydrates play in health and disease. This is achieved through the development and application of ultra-high sensitivity mass spectrometric strategies for solving biopolymer structural problems, with particular emphasis on post-translational modifications especially glycosylation. Professor Dell has previously been recognized with the Whistler Medal of the International Carbohydrate Organization, the IGO Award of the International Glycoconjugates Society and the Karl Meyer Award from the Society for Glycobiology. She has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Society and is a member of the European Academy of Science. In 2009, she was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition to her services to Science.

Professor Ten Feizi, FMedSci.  Director of the Glycosciences Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London

Professor Ten Feizi is recognized as a pioneer in the biology of carbohydrates. Her publications (more than 310 to date), are highly cited.  Among them is an article in Nature 1985, which is an ISI citation classic in Glycobiology. In that article, she predicted important biological roles for carbohydrate chains of glycoproteins and glycolipids. In 1985 Ten Feizi and colleagues introduced the neoglycolipid (NGL) technology for design of oligosaccharide

probes for micro-scale detection and structural characterization of the ligands of carbohydrate-recognizing proteins. In 2002 Ten Feizi and her colleagues introduced the first microarray system for sequence-defined glycans based on the NGL principle and intended to encompass entire glycomes i.e. the carbohydrate repertoires of whole organisms. This is currently one of the two largest carbohydrate microarray systems in the world and it is the most diverse on account of its high content of natural oligosaccharides that are difficult to synthesize, in addition to chemically synthesized sequences. Glycan arrays are revolutionizing the unravelling of carbohydrate recognition systems in health and in infectious and non-infectious disease, and thus have become essential tools in biology and medicine. Among the honors and awards that Ten Feizi has received is the Outstanding Research Award of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and a Career Achievement Award of the Glycobiology Group of the British Biochemical Society. She is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.

Professor Robert Glen, PhD. Chair in Computational Medicine at Imperial College London, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London

Professor Bobby Glen designed the GASP and GOLD computer programs (a BBSRC funded grant he held whilst at the Wellcome Foundation, which has over 4000 citations), which are used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry, he is a co-inventor of Zomig (a drug for migraine with ca. £5 B in sales) and invented two other compounds that have entered Phase-2 clinical development. In 1999 he moved to the University of Cambridge as Director of the Unilever Centre, which he has built to over fifty research scientists. He has published over 150 papers and has a number of compounds currently in human clinical studies through clinical collaboration with Addenbrook’s hospital. Prof Glen is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a member of the publication board and chair of the IT committee, an honorary fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research and a Fellow of Clare College Cambridge.

Dr. Stuart Haslam, PhD., FRSB Reader in Structural Glycobiology, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London 

Dr. Stuart Haslam’s research is focused on the development and application of high sensitivity mass spectrometry techniques to determine the structure of glycoconjugates from diverse biological origins ranging from bacteria to humans. His methodological developments in this area have been fundamental to the establishment of the scientific field of glycomics. A particular focus area is the structural characterization of glycoconjugates involved in host pathogen interactions. In 2011 he was the recipient of Royal Society of Chemistry Carbohydrate Medal, in 2015 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and in 2017 he was the recipient of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics award.

Dr. Pascale Kropf Senior Lecturer in Immunology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London

Dr. Pascale Kropf is a leading expert in the immunology of leishmaniasis; she is a Senior Lecturer based in Imperial College London. She has held an honorary position at the University of Gondar, Ethiopia for the past 10 years where she leads immunology research. The main focus of her work is to understand the immunological mechanisms responsible for control of infection in asymptomatic individuals or uncontrolled parasite replication in symptomatic visceral leishmaniasis, with a special focus on the role of neutrophils.

Dr. David MacIntyre,  PhD. Dr.  David MacIntyre is a Senior Lecturer in Reproductive Systems Medicine in the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London.

He is a tenured Senior Lecturer but also holds a Medical Research Council (MRC) Career Development Award fellowship and was recently awarded the President's Award for Outstanding Early Career Researcher in Imperial College London. His research is primarily focused on investigating the dynamic relationship between microbiota of the reproductive tract and the maternal host during pregnancy and understanding how this relationship impacts upon pregnancy outcomes and risk of preterm birth. His research team approaches this using both classical biochemistry methods as well as “systems” based approaches (transcriptomic, metagenomic and metabonomics). Data collected from patients throughout their pregnancy journey can be then integrated and modelled to elucidate novel mechanisms involved in microbiota:host interactions as well as for the development of improved diagnostic and predictive tools that will assist in patient stratification and ultimately, improved pregnancy outcomes.

Professor Julian Marchesi, PhD. Professor of Digestive Health, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London

Professor Marchesi’s research is focused on the role that microbes play in influencing the host, e.g. how they modify host-synthesised molecules such as bile and how this modification alters the host’s metabolism. His group uses metataxonomics (16S rRNA gene profiles), metagenomics and metabolomics to determine key gut microbes and their associated metabolites and how they influence the host. He has developed functional screens and methods to investigate bile acid modification, antibiotic resistance, osmotolerance mechanisms, lipase activity, cholesterol degradation, protease activity and carbohydrate catabolism.

Dr. Lynn Sykes Clinical Lecturer in Obstetrics, Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London

Dr Lynne Sykes is an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London. Her clinical post involves managing women at high risk of preterm birth at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea hospital, a tertiary referral center for mothers delivering extremely preterm babies. She leads a team of researchers focusing on alterations in the immune response in women who deliver preterm. Her goal is to depict variations in the host immune response with particular interest in how it recognizes and reacts with local microbiota. Improving our understanding of immune responses in the female genital tract will allow her team to explore immunomodulation strategies for the prevention of preterm birth.

Professor Zoltan Takats, PhD. Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London

Prof Takats has pursued pioneering research in mass spectrometry and he is one of the founders of the field of ‘Ambient Mass Spectrometry’. He is the primary inventor of a number of mass spectrometric ionization techniques allowing direct analysis of biomolecular systems and has authored over 100 peer reviewed publications. He was the recipient of the Mattauch-Herzog Award of the German Mass Spectrometry Society and the Hungarian Star Award for Outstanding Innovators. He is the founder of Prosolia Inc, Medimass Ltd and Massprom Ltd, all companies pursuing analytical and medical device development.

Principal Scientific Investigators &  Clinical Service and Patient Cohorts

Principal Scientific Investigators:       
Phillip Bennett, M.D., PhD.
Prof. Marina Botto, FMedSci
Prof. Anne Dell, CBE, FRS, FMedSci
Prof.Ten Feizi,
Prof.Robert Glen
Dr. Stuart Haslam
Dr. Pascale Kropf
Dr. David MacIntyre  
Prof. Julian Marchesi
Dr. Lynne Sykes
Prof..Zoltan Takats

Clinical Service and Patient Cohorts
Prof. Tom Bourne
Dr. Christoph Lees
Prof. T. G. Teoh
Prof. Lesley Regan
Prof. Graham Taylor
Dr. Vasso Terzidou
Prof. Neena Modi