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Prof Jim Owen
Division of Medicine, Royal Free Campus
UCL Medical School, Rowland Hill Street
Hampstead
London
NW3 2PF
Appointment
  • Emeritus Professor of Molecular Medicine
  • Div of Medicine
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences
Research Summary

Historically, my research interests have concerned lipoprotein metabolism and cell membrane lipids, which over the years have had broad relevance to liver disease and also to cardiovascular, renal, parasitological, viral and neurological diseases. In the last 10-15 years, the focus has been on gene therapy strategies to counteract deficient or dysfunctional HDL-proteins (ApoAI, ApoE or LCAT). This included gene addition using nonviral (plasmids) and viral (recombinant adenovirus and adeno-associated virus [AAV]) vectors, with a recent emphasis on self-complementary AAV8.

In parallel, we have advanced the emerging technology of in-situ gene editing using synthetic oligonucleotides. Potential applications include introducing disease-associated mutations into cell lines or animals, functional studies of SNPs and, ultimately, clinical therapy by correcting genetic point mutations. A key target is correction of the dysfunctional e2 and e4 alleles (UK frequency 0.08 & 0.15), which are risk factors for arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. This application of oligonucleotide therapeutics is being extended to encompass exon splicing and spliceosome-mediated RNA transplicing (SMaRT) technologies to treat genetic elevation of plasma LDL.

Teaching Summary

Lectures, tutorials and workshops for the 'Cellular & Molecular Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease' module for BSc students in Molecular Medicine and in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Bioc3011 & Bioc3017). Also contributions to other courses within UCL: SSSM (The Liver - from science to clinical practice); Intercalated BSc in Clinical Sciences (UBICLSSING) (Translational Research in Cardiovascular disease); PHASE 1 YR 1 MBBS Circulation & Breathing course (Cardiovascular disease); BSc in Surgical Science (Animal models to study and treat hypercholesterolaemia and atherosclerosis); and MSc in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition.  And outside of UCL (since 2001): Royal Holloway University of London, lectures to Biomedical Science BSc students on the 'The genetics of plasma lipoproteins in health and disease'; Universidade do Porto, Portugal; a lecture course on 'Lipoprotein receptors? to final year Biochemistry students; and last year 8 lectures to postgraduate students at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil. 

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