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Charmaine Lang

Kavli Institute Group Leader

  • Principal Investigator at Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Discovery
  • Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics Group Leader
  • Biomedical Sciences Tutor, St Catherine's College

My work is primarily on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of Parkinson’s using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines. The Oxford Parkinson’s disease Centre (OPDC) has generated a wide-range of iPSC lines from genetic and idiopathic cases of Parkinson's and from healthy controls. I am differentiating these lines into cell types of interest and will utilise them to better understand cell function and dysfunction in Parkinson's. I am currently working on two main projects:

neuron-glial communication & support in neurodegenerative disease

Parkinson’s research is centralised on the idea of finding ways to understand dopamine neuron degeneration and to prevent their loss. While much research is focused on dopamine neurons themselves, it is important to note that they do not exist alone in the human brain and receive and require many signals and molecules for support and function from other cell types, most importantly astrocytes. However, the exact mechanisms of communication between these two cell types in the human brain & whether these signals are supportive or destructive in neurodegeneration is poorly understood. Therefore, the focus of my research is on understanding whether dopamine neuron loss in Parkinson’s is due to a lack of support by astrocytes and to find ways in which we can boost this support to promote dopamine neuron survival. This work is currently funded by Parkinson's UK & Rosetrees Trust.

transcriptomics analysis of Parkinson's iPSC-derived neurons & Glia, for therapeutic target discovery

This project involves differentiating iPSCs from patients with different types of Parkinson's mutations (GBA-N370S, SNCA-A53T, SNCA Triplication, LRRK2-G2019S and LRRK2-R1441C) and Idiopathic Parkinson's, into dopamine neurons, the cell type most vulnerable in this disease. From this heterogeneous population i can isolate dopaminergic neurons by fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS) and perform bulk and single cell RNA-Sequencing to identify global changes in expression in these patients compared to controls. Using this approach is a robust and efficient way to unbiasedly uncover alterations in new unidentified proteins or pathways that may be attributed to Parkinson's that may be therapeutic targets for the disease. I then validate these potentially interesting proteins or pathways, identify compounds that may act on these targets and observe their effect on Parkinson's-related phenotypes.

We highly support cross-discipline projects and collaboration, so please do get in touch.


Current team:

Ms Akansha Mehta (Research Assistant)

Ms Anne Larsen (DPhil Student)

Dr Anna Nelke (Visting Postdoctoral Researcher)


Dr Elena Britti (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Ms Nicole Li (Research Assistant)

Mr Kayomavua Akpobaro (DPhil Student)

Ms Parnaz Sharifi (DPhil Student)

Dr Nancy Ahuja (Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher)


I am originally from Sydney, Australia, where I completed my undergraduate degree, a BSc (Hons I) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). I then went on to complete my PhD, in the Parkinson’s disease and neurogenomics lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, investigating the connection between alpha synuclein and mitochondrial dysfunction in sporadic Parkinson’s disease. In February 2015 I moved to Oxford to undertake a post-doctoral fellowship in the Richard Wade-Martins lab.

My research interests lie in the areas of complex iPSC co-culture methods, more specifically, on modelling the interaction of dopamine neurons and astrocytes in neurodegeneration. Additionally, i am interested in the downstream validation of new Parkinson's-related targets and the repurposing of compounds which interact with these targets for their therapeutic potential.

Teaching, Supervision and Departmental Responsibilities

Tutor in Biomedical Sciences St Catherine's College

Lecturer in MSc Neuroscience & Undergraduate Medicine Courses

Senior Doctoral Training Advisor (SDTA)

Member of the DPAG Graduate Studies Committee

Member of the DPAG Training and Career Development Working Group

Tutor in Stem cells and Neurodegeneration for Medical students (FHS) in the Theme “Neurology: from bench to bedside” at Oxford University