Dr Oliver Russell

Research Associate


I was awarded my BSc (Hons) in pharmacology by Newcastle University where I stayed to study my PhD, under the supervision of Prof Bob Lightowlers and Prof Sir Doug Turnbull. During my PhD I was given the opportunity to try and develop anti-sense oligonucleotide therapies for mitochondrial DNA disease. Although this proved to be unsuccessful, the shift in focus of the project enabled me to develop my first high-throughput screen for mitochondrial therapeutics and firmly establish treatment research within the Wellcome Centre.

The success of my high-throughput screen led to my research being sponsored by Morningside Ventures, a venture capitalist company led by Dr Gerald Chan. This award, along with the Wellcome Centre renewal enabled, the expansion of treatments research from a team of 1 to the team of 9 basic scientists we currently employ within the Centre. My research focuses on the development of new therapies, which ranges from designing and performing high-throughput screens to performing mechanism of action experiments. I also oversee our external collaborations with companies interested in using the facilities within the Centre to test their therapies in our models of mitochondrial disease.

Research Focus

Treatments for mitochondrial disease are currently limited to symptom management rather than directly treating the mitochondrial biochemical defect. This project aims to discover novel, mitochondria improving therapies which can cause a real improvement to the lives of patients with mitochondrial disease.

In order to discover new therapies, we have initiated a number of collaborations with companies based in the UK and internationally. We have also recently established a high-throughput imaging facility within Newcastle University, which enables researchers within the Wellcome Centre to screen thousands of novel compounds. This approach has led to the discovery of several compounds, each of which improve different aspects of mitochondrial function. We are currently in the hit to lead phase of development for a novel mitochondrial dysfunction rescue compound, which we hope will be used to treat patients with mitochondrial disease.

Sponsor/funder: Morningside research fellowship