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Professor Nabeel Affara

Professor Nabeel Affara

Professor of Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Division of Cellular and Molecular Pathology


Research Interests

Professor Affara's group has research interests in three main areas

 

The Molecular Genetics and Genomics of Mammalian Sex Chromosomes and Spermatogenesis:  The mapping and sequencing of the mammalian sex chromosomes has been a longstanding interest with a particular focus on X-Y homologous genes potentially involved in male fertility and cognitive behaviour. Studies in mouse have identified novel families of amplified genes on both sex chromosomes, uncovering a genomic conflict between the X and Y genomes that plays an important role in maintaining sex ratios. Analysis of the porcine sex chromosomes has led to the first map of the pig Y and an understanding of its gene content and sequence organisation relative to other mammalian Y chromosomes and the pig X. These studies have been combined with transcriptional analysis of the first pre-pubertal wave of spermatogenesis using microarray and RNAseq approaches to identify key pathways and genes involved in germ cell differentiation.

 

Porcine Maternal Infanticide as a Model for Human Puerperal Psychosis: Savaging of newborn piglets by the sow within 24 hours of birth shares a number behavioural similarities with the extreme form of neglect of and aggression towards the newborn in humans known as puerperal psychosis. This is a psychotic behaviour at the extreme end of the spectrum of adverse human maternal behaviour and clustering in families has indicated that there is an important genetic contribution.

 

 

Developmental Origins of Health and Disease: It is increasingly being appreciated from human and animal model studies that genome-environment interactions play a key role in the development of disease processes. This has lead to the DOHAD (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease) hypothesis that proposes a key role for early life (intrauterine and early postnatal development) exposures (pathogen, nutritional, chemical and behavioural) of tissues and individual cell types in leading to chronic non-communicable disease in later life.

 

 

Embedded within the group is the Departmental Genomics Facility, Cambridge Genomics Services

The Centre supports collaborative partnerships and scientific training activities in basic biomedical and health-related research. This is achieved through coordinated cross-faculty research across departments and research institutes in Cambridge including The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute