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Preclinical Research Group

Preclinical Research Group

We engage in diverse and multidisciplinary research aiming to establish translational biomarkers of neurological and psychiatric disorders ‘from bench to bedside’. To this end, we use a variety of imaging methods including imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET), along with autoradiography and histology. Our portfolio also includes methods that complement our core imaging, including x-ray fluorescence, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and electroencephalography (EEG), and we have expertise ranging from conducting behavioural experiments to molecular biology. We collaborate with many scientists from KCL and beyond, as well as with pharmaceutical and biotech companies involved with drug discovery and therapeutics.


Dr Po-Wah So

Dr Po-Wah So

Lecturer in Biomedical Imaging and Spectroscopy

Dr So’s research is focused on determining the central consequences of peripheral dysfunction, especially the role of metals such as iron. This work builds upon her research into metabolic disorders including obesity, diabetes and fatty liver, and the role of metals in normal ageing and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr So has extensive experience in biomedical applications of MRI, MRS and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) in in vitroex vivo and in vivo models; corroborated by X-ray fluorescence elemental mapping/analysis, histopathology and behaviour assessments. She collaborates with many academic and industrial researchers. Dr So is also a module leader for ‘Practical Neuroimaging’ in the Departmental MSc Neuroimaging course and teaches on various BSc and MSc courses at IoPPN/KCL. 


Diana Cash

Dr Diana Cash

Staff scientist and Manager of BRAIN Centre for preclinical imaging

Dr Cash’s interests are in evaluating effects of experimental therapies in preclinical models of psychiatric and neurological disorders, using combination of MRI with corroborative methods such as behaviour, histology, PET and autoradiography. She also manages the new BRAIN Centre (Centre for Biomarker Research And Imaging for Neuroscience, which aims to facilitate the development and optimization of translational biomarkers of neurological disorders via a team of dedicated scientists and state of art equipment that includes a brand new 9.4T Bruker MR scanner.


Camilla Simmons

Dr Camilla Simmons

Staff scientist and Biological and Operations manager for BRAIN Centre

Dr Simmons’s work has been on combining multiple neuroimaging techniques, such as EEG, MRI, biosensors and 2-deoxyglucose autoradiography, and using these simultaneous setups to investigate cognitive function in experimental disease models such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's. 


 Tobias Wood

Dr Tobias Wood

Postdoctoral scientist / MR Physicist

Dr Wood’s research focuses on new methods for quantitative imaging at close to 1,000 times the resolution available in a clinical scanning session.

These exquisite scans can provide real insight into changes at the cellular level, leading to better interpretation and diagnostic potential. These methods have been applied to image demyelination and neuro-inflammation in rodent models, and are now being used to investigate brain metabolism.



Dr Nisha Singh

Postdoctoral scientist 

I am a psychopharmacologist by training and am interested in translational research in the field. My research involves drug discovery, as well as developing and testing new and existing small molecules that may be useful in treatment or as biomarkers. At present, I am working on understanding the role glutamate plays in the treatment and development of neurological and psychiatric disorders. 


Marta V Rodriguez

Dr Marta Vicente Rodriguez

Postdoctoral scientist

Dr Vicente Rodriguez’s project is aiming to characterize the function of translocator protein (TSPO) as a translatable marker of neuroinflammation by PET and autoradiographic imaging, and corroborative histological and molecular techniques.


Ms Chantal Huebens - Research Associate

Ms Hubens has used a diverse range of techniques including behaviourial assessments and immunohistochemistry, to correlate protein expression with hippocampal-dependent learning in a variety of in vivo experimental models. She is currently working on the METCOG project with Dr So.


Karen Randall

Ms Karen Randall - Research Assistant

Ms Randall works on a project aiming to characterize the mechanistic link between neuroinflammation and depression using preclinical models, behavioural experiments, histology and MRI.


PhD Students 

Mr Azhaar Ashraf 

Mr Ashraf has a 4-year King’s Industrial PhD studentship, aligned with the London Interdisciplinary Biosciences PhD consortium (LIDo), working on ‘Non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging-based methods for determining brain iron content and health status’. The studentship is an industrial collaboration with Perspectum Diagnostics Ltd (Oxford, U.K.). 

Ms Maral Amrahli 

Ms Amrahli’s has a PhD studentship sponsored by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education for ‘Design, synthesis and characterization of MRI-guided theranostic liposomal nanoparticles for drug delivery.’

Mr Alex Gardner

Mr Gardner has a BBSRC CASE studentship, working on ‘Predicting taste responses to differently tasting food stuffs using saliva NMR-based metabonomics and proteomics’. This studentship is an industrial collaboration with Diageo Ltd.

Miss Eilidh MacNicol

Ms MacNicol’s four year MRC Doctoral Training Partnership studentship enables her to study cognitive and metabolic reserve in healthy ageing. Using her experience of functional and structural MRI analysis, she is investigating if brain metabolism biomarkers and neurotransmitter systems can explain cognitive decline.



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