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James Lee : Genetic Mechanisms of Disease Laboratory

We study how tiny differences in our DNA predispose us to autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. By uncovering the biological mechanisms involved, we hope to better understand these conditions and find new ways of treating them.

Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, and now affect more than 1 in 10 adults in the UK. These lifelong, incurable illnesses often develop in young people and can have enormous effects on sufferers' lives, not to mention considerable financial implications for health services.

Almost all autoimmune diseases require better treatments, but the failure rate of drugs entering clinical development is high - in part because we still don't understand these diseases well enough.

Genetic studies to identify changes in our DNA that contribute to autoimmune disorders have been incredibly successful, providing a unique opportunity to better understand these diseases.

Our lab uses a range of experimental tools to uncover the molecular, cellular and biological mechanisms by which genetic variants predispose to human disease – with a particular focus on the sorts of immune cells that drive autoimmunity. By working directly on these immune cells, sourced from patients and healthy volunteers, we aim to both uncover new disease pathways and determine whether these could be targeted to provide better treatments for patients.