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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Alex Clark, PhD

Alex

Non-Clinical Lecturer in Neuroscience

Email: Alex.j.clark@qmul.ac.uk

Profile

Dr Alex Clark completed an MSCi degree in Neuroscience at University of Nottingham. Following this he started a PhD at University College London where he established a microfluidic culture device to study the axons of sensory neurons in isolation. He then undertook a post-doc in Prof David Bennett’s lab at University of Oxford where he studied inherited pain conditions using induced pluripotent stem cells. Whilst in Oxford he also earned a Research Fellowship in 2019 and subsequently began researching the pathophysiology of Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy type 1.  He was appointed non-clinical lecturer in Neuroscience in 2022.

Teaching

  • Co-module lead and lecturer for (SNU307) Developmental Biology and Cell signaling – Nanchang joint programme – Year 3.
  • Co-module lead and lecturer for Brain and Behavior – Year 2 MBBS.
  • Co-module lead and lecturer for (BMD361/ICM6013) Repair and Regeneration in the Nervous System.

Research

Research Interests:

Pain arises as a direct consequence of injury or disease to the somatosensory system. There are many causes of pain and sometimes this results in neuropathic pain which can last many months to years or even a whole lifetime. I am particularly interested in researching inherited pain conditions; these are often highly debilitating and have a profound impact on the quality of life. I specialize in differentiating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to sensory neurons to model and study these conditions. These are a fantastic opportunity to study human neurons in culture and by doing so we can interrogate potential disease mechanisms. I have been successful in developing the first ever myelinating coculture of human iPSC-derived neurons with rodent Schwann cells which we used to study a demyelinating neuropathy, this coculture platform is now being used as a diagnostic screening tool. More recently I led a large investigative project to study the pathophysiology of a Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy, where we uncovered a previously unknown cause for this disease. iPSCs are an incredibly powerful tool for researchers to study disease and it is my intention to use both iPSC and in vivo models to continue researching painful sensory neuropathies

Publications

  • An iPSC model of hereditary sensory neuropathy-1 reveals L-serine-responsive deficits in neuronal ganglioside composition and axoglial interactions.
    Clark AJ, Kugathasan U, Baskozos G, Priestman DA, Fugger N, Lone MA, Othman A, Chu KH, Blesneac I, Wilson ER, Laurà M, Kalmar B, Greensmith L, Hornemann T, Platt FM, Reilly MM, Bennett DL. 
    Cell Reports Medicine. 2021 Jul 21;2(7):100345.
  • Molecular and cellular correlates of human nerve regeneration: ADCYAP1/PACAP enhance nerve outgrowth.
    Baskozos G, Sandy-Hindmarch O, Clark AJ, Windsor K, Karlsson P, Weir GA, McDermott LA, Burchall J, Wiberg A, Furniss D, Bennett DLH, Schmid AB.
    Brain. 2020 Jul 1;143(7):2009-2026
  • Functional imaging in microfluidic chambers reveals sensory neuron sensitivity is differentially regulated between neuronal regions.
    Clark AJ, Menendez G, AlQatari M, Patel N, Arstad E, Schiavo G, Koltzenburg M.
    Pain. 2018 Jul;159(7):1413-1425
  • Co-cultures with stem cell-derived human sensory neurons reveal regulators of peripheral myelination.
    Clark AJ, Kaller MS, Galino J, Willison HJ, Rinaldi S, Bennett DLH.
    Brain. 2017 Apr 1;140(4):898-913
  • Using an engineered glutamate-gated chloride channel to silence sensory neurons and treat neuropathic pain at the source.
    Weir GA, Middleton SJ, Clark AJ, Daniel T, Khovanov N, McMahon SB, Bennett DL.
    Brain. 2017 Oct 1;140(10):2570-2585
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