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Yvonne Couch

BSc (Hons), MSc, DPhil

Associate Professor of Neuroimmunology

  • Alzheimer's Research UK Fellow
  • Stipendiary Lecturer - Somerville College
  • Associate Research Fellow - St Hilda's College

My primary research field is neuroimmunology, specifically how the brain communicates injury or illness to the systemic immune system, and vice-versa. I undertook a PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Oxford studying the role of the serotonergic system in mediating sickness behaviours. During this time I developed a keen interest in the elusive mechanisms of brain-immune communication and chose to pursue this in the field of stroke research. I obtained a prestigious Carlsberg Research Fellowship at the University of Southern Denmark to work with Prof. Kate Lambertsen on post-stroke depression. As a side project during my time in Odense I worked on the potential for extracellular vesicles (EVs) to play a role in distant organ communication.

I moved back to Oxford to work in the group of Prof. Alastair Buchan, obtaining a number of small independent grants which allowed me to explore the role of EVs in stroke. I am currently studying how EVs might act as injury signals to escape the brain after a stroke. EVs are lipid vesicles of varying sizes, shed from cells all the time, and thought to be a novel mechanism of cell to cell communication. My aim is to study whether these EVs contribute to inflammation within the central nervous system (CNS) after a stroke, but also whether they contribute to the injury signal that activates the systemic immune system.

In 2020 I was awarded an Alzheimer's Research UK Fellowship to study the effect of EVs on endothelial cells in the context of stroke and vascular dementia.

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