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Anna Coenen-Stass

Postgraduate Student

I'm a final year DPhil student in Professor Matthew Wood's group at DPAG and St John's College. Before coming to Oxford, I studied 'Molecular Life Science' at the University of Lübeck in Germany. During my studies I visited the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis at the Yale School of Medicine to investigate signalling mechanisms of the innate immune system after retroviral infections. Because I was increasingly interested in translational research I joined the Wood group for my final Master's thesis project in 2012.

My DPhil thesis work aims to elucidate novel insights into the biology of extracellular microRNAs associated with neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases. I am especially interested in studying the biological function and biomarker potential of muscle specific microRNAs enriched in the circulation of patients with the progressive muscular wasting disorder Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Another focus of my doctoral study is to establish tools and workflows that allow overcoming the complexity of biofluids such as serum to identify more sensitive and accurate disease biomarkers. Together with SomaLogic Inc. we have utilised an aptamer-based proteomic approach to identify novel therapeutic-monitoring biomarkers for DMD. I have further worked on the establishment of serum fractionation techniques such as size-exclusion chromatography to separate vesicular from non-vesicular components which is a useful tool for serum biomarker discovery.

During my time on the Wood lab I have worked on various additional translational research projects such as the uptake mechanism of splice-modifying oligonucleotides into muscle and brain. I am also highly interested in utilizing CRISPR/Cas based genome editing particularly for the treatment of neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases.


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