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Welcome to OXION, Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and MRC Harwell


Ion channels are intrinsic membrane proteins that act as gated pores and regulate the movement of ions across all cell membranes. They play essential roles in the physiology of all cells and defects in ion channel function have profound physiological and behavioural effects. In many cases, several different organ systems are involved and understanding the clinical disease requires knowledge of molecular and cellular biology, as well as whole organism physiology. Determination of the role of ion channels in health and disease therefore inevitably involves an integrated and multidisciplinary approach. Because of their important functional roles, membrane location, structural heterogeneity, and the restricted tissue expression of some channel types, ion channels are also important targets for drug therapy.

The Integrative Physiology Initiative in Ion channels and Diseases of Electrically Excitable Cells (OXION) was one of the three awards made by the Wellcome Trust in 2002 to promote integrative physiology. By integrating ion channel research at multiple levels (from atom to animal), OXION has made significant contributions to basic science and to clinical diagnosis and care. It has led to novel scientific discoveries; fostered collaborations by providing core resources, personnel, and equipment for collaborative research; brought new research groups and technologies into the field of integrative physiology; and increased the profile of ion channel research.

The OXION programme was initiated in 2003. It is led by Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft FRS and the Director of training is Dr. Stephen Tucker. Funding for the initiative was renewed by the Wellcome Trust in 2008 to include 15 PhD OXION studentships and 6 OXION training fellows and in 2014 the PhD studentship programme was renewed for another 5 years with 5 studentships per annum.