Research Fellow investigating the role of innate immunity regulation in diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and the development of biopharmaceuticals to treat complement-mediated disease.
Simon obtained his B.Sc. in Biochemistry (with Immunology) at the University of Aberdeen in 2002 and subsequently spent a year working in industry on the development of diagnostic tests for cardiovascular disease. In 2003 Simon matriculated at Oxford to begin his D.Phil. studies investigating the interaction of complement factor H (FH), an innate immune regulator, with endogenous sugar molecules as a mechanism for host recognition. It was during his time in Oxford where he was the first to describe the biochemical effects of a genetic polymorphism in FH associated with developing Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the western World.
In 2006, Simon moved to the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, to study further the regulation of innate immunity on extracellular matrices and successfully identified the sugar molecules that FH binds to in Bruch’s membrane, the site of AMD pathogenesis. Importantly, he found that the disease-associated polymorphism reduced the ability of FH to bind Bruch’s membrane leading to the proposal of a novel disease mechanism for AMD.
Simon now works in the Faculty of Medicine and Human Sciences, University of Manchester, where he has taken up an MRC Career Development Fellowship. Simon is using this opportunity to study potential roles of the factor H-related (FHR) proteins in the pathogenesis of AMD and other extracellular matrix diseases. Recently, Simon identified another protein, made by alternative splicing of the FH gene; called factor H-like protein 1 (FHL-1), is actually the main complement regulator in Bruch’s membrane. He is now focusing his work on understanding how FHL-1 and the FHR proteins contribute to immune regulation around the human body.
Memberships of committees and professional bodies
Translational Ophthalmology Steering Committee member for the University of Manchester Intellectual Property Services
Academic Editor for PLoS ONE
Editorial Board member for Frontiers in Immunology (Molecular Innate Immunity section)
Guest Editor for Immunobiology 2018
Member of the Macular Society’s Professional Advisory Panel
Executive committee member for Complement UK
Chair of the Division of Evolution and Genomic Sciences Health and Safety Committee, University of Manchester
Member of the Evolution and Genomic Sciences Divisional Leadership Team, University of Manchester
MRC College of Reviewers (Newton Fund)
Full member of the Biochemical Society
Full member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)