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Dr Anthony Isles

Dr Anthony Isles

Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

School of Medicine

Email:
islesar1@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2068 8467
Location:
2.48, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision

I am a molecular and behavioural neuroscientist interested in the contribution of epigenetic mechanisms to brain and behaviour. In particular, we are investigating an intriguing family of genes, the imprinted genes, which are subject to epigenetic control acquired during development resulting in expression from one parental copy only; this is in contrast to most genes in our genome that are expressed, on average, equally from both parental copies. The research is focused on addressing what these imprinted genes are doing in the brain and how they may contribute to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Education and qualifications

  • 2000: PhD (Zoology) University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 1994: BSc Zoology & Genetics, University of Sheffield, UK

Academic positions

  • 2006 - present: Professor, MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  • 2003 - 2008 Beebe Trust Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 1999 - 2003 Post-doctoral researcher, The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK
  • 1994 - 1995 ESF Trainee technician, Department of Genetics, Leicester University, UK

Speaking engagements

  • ‘The 15q imprinted interval and psychiatric illness’, RIKEN Centre for Brain Science, Tokyo, Japan (2019)
  • ‘Epigenetics, genomic imprinting and psychiatric illness’, 10th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience, Daegu, Korea (2019)
  • ‘Exploring impulsive behaviour in a mouse model for PWS’, FPWR research meeting, Las Vegas, US (2018)
  • ‘Investigating the contribution of imprinted genes to neurodevelopmental disorders’, 20th SSBP International Research Symposium, Leiden, Netherlands (2017)
  • ‘Imprinted Cdkn1c is a mediator of the effects of maternal nutritional stress on offspring brain development and function’, 5th Brain and Behavior Haifa Forum, Haifa, Israel (2014)
  • ‘The effect of Htr2c post-transcriptional modification on 5HT2CR regulated behaviour’, Experimental Biology meeting, Boston, USA (2013)
  • ‘The growing importance of imprinted genes for brain function’, UK-Japan workshop on ‘Neural epigenetics: From mechanism to disease’, Tokyo, Japan (2013)
  • ‘Genomic imprinting, epigenetics, and risky decisions’, Oxford University Cortex Club, Oxford University, Oxford, UK (2013)
  • ‘The importance of imprinted gene expression dosage in brain function and neurodevelopmental disease’, Biochemical Society Annual Symposium, University of Leeds, UK (2012)
  • ‘What can animals tell us about Prader-Willi syndrome?’, Keynote lecture, Estonian PWS Society, Tartu, Estonia (2012)

Committees and reviewing

Internal

  • Deputy-Director of the Wellcome Trust Integrative Neuroscience PhD programme (2014-present)
  • Lead, Neuroscience and Mental Health theme, GW4 MRC BioMed doctoral training programme (2015-present)

External

  • Communications (trustee) British Association of Neuroscience (2017-2022)
  • Editorial Board member, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (2020-present)
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Developmental Epigenetics (2017-present)
  • Editorial Board member, Genes Brain and Behavior (2017-present)
  • Editorial Board member, Brain and Neuroscience Advances (2017-present)
  • Medical Research Council GEMM panel member (2016-present)
  • Associate Editor, European Journal of Neuroscience (2008-2020)

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I give two lectures on 'Epigenetics' as part of the final year Psychology module "Behavioural Genetics" (PS3210). I also teach on the Intercalated Psychology module "Scientific Basis of Psychological Medicine" (ME3085) where I lecture on 'Early life and neurodevelopment' and give two tutorials on 'Impulsivity'.

My group is interested in the contribution of epigenetic mechanisms to brain and behaviour. In particular, we are investigating an intriguing family of genes, the imprinted genes, which are subject to epigenetic control acquired during development resulting in expression from one parental copy (allele) only. The research is focused on addressing what these imprinted genes are doing in the brain and how they may contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. We are also interested in whether imprinted genes expressed in the brain are affected by the maternal environment (e.g. diet). Similarly, more recent research in collaboration with Prof Rosalind John (Cardiff University) is investigating whether changes in the placental expression of imprinted genes can influence both maternal behaviour and later offspring outcomes. Finally, we are also involved in work characterising the role epigenetic processes more generally in neurodevelopment and the aetiology of neuropsychiatric illness.

Our work requires a multi-disciplinary approach in order to examine aspects of behaviour, neurobiology and molecular genetics. We primarily examine behavioural phenotypes in rodent models and use molecular techniques for addressing gene expression and epigenetic regulation of the genome (histone modification and DNA methylation).

Current research project areas

  • Imprinted genes, brain and behaviour
  • Coordination of placenta, maternal brain, and offspring outcomes
  • Neurodevelopmental role of the histone methyltransferase Ehmt1/Glp
  • Developmental and functional role of Setd1a in the brain

Research Funding

Biolotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, project grant - "Exposing the link between placental endocrine dysfunction and offspring behaviour"

Biolotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, project grant - "Ensuring quality maternal care in an adverse environment"

Past projects

Main supervisor for Dr Manal Adams - Epigenetics and neurodevelopmental diosrders: molecular and behaviorual characterisation of an Ehmt1/Glp knockout mouse model (awarded 2019). Manni is now a research fellow at Havard Medical School

Main supervisor for Dr Kira Rienecker - Paternal Grb10 in brain and behaviour (awarded 2018). Kira is now a post doc at the University of California Merced

Co-supervisor for Dr Hugo Creeth - Investigating whether disrupted placental function leads to alterations in maternal behaviour (awaded 2017). Hugo is now a post-doc at Cardiff University

Main supervisor for Dr Grainne McNamara - In utero adversity and later life behavioural disorders: the role of Ckdn1c (awarded 2014). Grainne now works for Frontiers publishing

Co-supervisor for Dr Brittany Davis - Modelling the neuropathalogy of Ehmt1 haploinsufficiency (awarded 2014). Brittany is now a post doctoral research fellow at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development

It is essential that scientists try to explain their research field to lay audiences, and indeed that, where possible, our research is informed by our interactions with the general public. I regularly undertake engagement activities and have spoken at events such as Pint of Science, the Cardiff Philosophy Cafe, and the MRC Centenary celebrations at BayArt.

In addtion, I have discussed my research with parents and carers of individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome, and recorded podcasts for Nature and the Biochemical Society explaining my research. Our work has also been feature in news articles in the Smithsonian, Scientific American and even the Daily Mail.

Areas of expertise

External profiles