Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

PhD and MPhil projects are available. Current research interests include:

-Pre-clinical development of trans-splicing for genetic diseases
-Spinocerebellar ataxia
-Neuropathophysiology of Duchenne muscular dystrophy
-RNA processing of the dystrophin gene
-Therapeutic targeting of dystrophin in the brain
-Role of the DMD gene in cancer
-RNA processing in neurodegeneration
-RNA-based gene therapy/therapeutics

Please get in touch by e-mail or telephone.

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Research activity per year

Personal profile


Karen studied biochemistry at the University of Leeds spending one year as a sandwich student at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Essex.  At GSK Karen experienced the drug discovery process through performing large-scale purifications of protein drug targets.  Developing a strong interest in neurodegeneration Karen joined the lab of Dr Jean-Marc Gallo at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.  Her PhD “tau RNA processing in neurodegeneration: trans-acting factors regulating alternative splicing and mRNA localisation” was awarded in 2009.  As a post-doc in Dr Gallo’s lab Karen established proof-of-concept for RNA reprogramming strategies including RNA trans-splicing therapies for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 and the tauopathies.  In 2010 Karen successfully translated her RNA expertise to the neuromuscular field and moved to the Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, Institute of Child Health, University College London (UCL).  Working with Professor Francesco Muntoni, Karen played a key role in developing antisense oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping as a therapeutic strategy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).  Her pre-clinical and clinical work in this area culminated in the first FDA-approved drug for DMD.  In 2015 Karen attained a lectureship at the University of Northampton where she founded and leads the Molecular Biosciences Research Group.  Her laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms of neurological disorders with a focus on the neuropathophysiology of DMD.  Karen also consults for international pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies on methodology for clinical trial biochemical outcome measures and the development of exon skipping and trans-splicing therapies.  She is currently leading the the proof-of-concept and pre-clinical development of innovative trans-splicing applications for rare diseases.  

Research Interests

Karen’s research is focused on RNA processing and the pre-clinical development of RNA therapeutics (exon skipping and trans-splicing) for rare neurological diseases.  Current research projects and interests include:

-Neuropathophysiology of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

-The role of the DMD gene in cancer

-RNA processing of the dystrophin gene

-Therapeutic targeting of dystrophin in the brain

-RNA processing in neurodegeneration

-RNA-based gene therapy/therapeutics

-Spinocerebellar ataxia


Teaching Interests

Undergraduate teaching:

Karen teaches across the BSc (Hons) in Biological Science, Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Biomedical Science programmes:

Module Leader:

  • SLS3010: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Teaching on other modules:

  • SLS2001: Genes and Genomics
  • SLS2013: Bioscience Research Methods

Postgraduate teaching (taught programmes) 

  • MSc in Molecular Medicine

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Master, PGCert in Research Degree Supervision, University of Northampton


PhD, PhD “tau RNA processing in neurodegeneration: trans-acting factors regulating alternative splicing and mRNA localisation” , King's College London


Bachelor, BSc (Hons) Biochemistry with medical biochemistry, University of Leeds


City & Guilds licentiateship award in applied biochemistry, GlaxoSmithKline



  • RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
  • RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
  • RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
  • QP Physiology
  • QM Human anatomy
  • QH301 Biology
  • QH426 Genetics


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