Environmental genetics of cognitive ageing
My vision is that we will one day be able to build a complete picture of the biology of the ageing neuron using information derived from many different sources; such as genomics, RNA sequencing, proteomics, phenotyping at the cellular, niche and organismal scales, and meta-analysis of public bioinformatics resources. Immense advances in our ability to measure and analyse data at scales ranging from molecular to behavioural have meant that unprecedented resources are now available to researchers. I believe that the next challenge is to integrate these data into models which usefully describe the highly complex systems found in biology. In my own field of interest, how the brain ages, for example, a significant amount is known about genes that control neuron function and about genes that alter during ageing. Nevertheless, we are continually surprised by unexpected new roles of genes and proteins and are still unable to always reliably alter intrinsic programmes—an ability which would have far-reaching clinical consequences.

In my research, I would like to take the next step towards a truly modern biology and explore new techniques to assemble data into a systems-level model of the ageing neuron.