Profiles of the Consortium Strategy Group

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Strategy group meetingAs with any large organisation our biggest asset is our people and their skills, experience and expertise. Prior to the formation of the Consortium, each of the three sites had conducted at least one clinical trial for CF gene therapy. Today the Consortium is managed by our strategy group with representatives bringing together the required clinical, regulatory and scientific skills required to ensure that we meet our goals whilst still achieving optimal results.

Eric Alton | Chris Boyd | Jane Davies | Deborah Gill | Uta Griesenbach | Tracy Higgins | Stephen Hyde | Alastair Innes | David Porteous | Gerry McLachlan




Prof Eric Alton, Imperial College London.

Prof Eric AltonProfessor Eric Alton was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge and Westminster Medical School. He subsequently undertook six years of general medical training.

For over fifteen years Eric has been involved in developing gene therapy for cystic fibrosis and angiogenesis, including three clinical trials. He coordinates the UK CF Gene Therapy Consortium and is the Director of the new Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

Eric is also an Honorary Consultant in Respiratory Medicine for the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

Eric's Consortium Publications.



Dr Chris Boyd, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Chris BoydDr Chris Boyd is a Senior Cystic Fibrosis Trust Research Fellow and is Group Leader of CF Gene Therapy in the Medical Genetics Section of Centre for Molecular Medicine , Western General Hospital.

Chris acquired expertise in molecular biology through training in prokaryotic biochemistry and plasmid recombination in both bacterial and animal cells. His current main interest is in the development of non-viral vectors for pulmonary gene therapy, and he oversees a variety of research projects in the Consortium aimed at translating gene therapy into clinical practice.  

A particular interest of the group is in developing sensitive assays for surrogate biomarkers of CF lung disease to allow monitoring of the effects of gene delivery. This is being achieved through a combination of microarray and proteomic approaches. Chris has been a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh since 1999, following a ten year period as a postdoctoral researcher in the MRC Human Genetics Unit.

He is also a member of the CF Trust's research advisory committee.

Chris's Consortium Publications



Dr Jane Davies, Imperial College London.

Dr Jane DaviesDr Jane Davies graduated MB ChB from the University of Dundee Medical School in 1987 and undertook clinical training in Paediatrics in London.

A post at the Royal Brompton Hospital led to an interest in Cystic Fibrosis (CF), particularly host-pathogen interactions and her MD focussed on the pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the lung. Her clinical training was subsequently completed at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the departments of Respiratory Medicine and Infectious Diseases/ Immunology. She returned to Imperial College London in 1999, as a Senior Lecturer and is now a Reader in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine & Gene Therapy.Jane is the clinical lead for the London arm of the Consortium.  

She is heavily involved in clinical trial design and the validation of outcome measures such as lung clearance index and sputum inflammatory markers. On the consortium trials she conducts the bronchoscopic assays and leads on the electrophysiological measurements (potential difference) both in the nose and lower airway.

Jane is also an Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

Jane's Consortium Publications


Dr Deborah Gill, University of Oxford.

Dr Deborah GillDr Deborah Gill is a translational scientist with over 20 years of experience in the field of gene therapy.Deborah undertook a Ph.D. at the University of Warwick where she discovered the defining member of the ABC Superfamily of proteins, which was reported in Nature.

Following post-doctoral work she became an Assistant Scientist at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, undertaking two clinical trials to evaluate non-viral gene therapy for Cystic Fibrosis in the mid-1990s.

She is now a Research Lecturer at the University of Oxford and Co-Director of the Gene Medicine Research Group, focused on translating research into lung therapeutics.

As part of the UK Gene Therapy Consortium's clinical programme Deborah is responsible for the manufacture and procurement of the gene therapy product for clinical trials.

Deborah's Consortium Publications.



Dr Uta Griesenbach, Imperial College London.

Dr Uta GriesenbachDr Uta Griesenbach is a Reader in Molecular Medicine at Imperial College London .

She joined the Department of Gene Therapy, National Heart & Lung Institute, in 1997 having earlier graduated from the University of Bonn (Germany) with a First Class degree in Diploma Biology and having completed a PhD degree at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada with Prof Lap-Chee Tsui.Since joining the Consortium, Uta's research has focussed on gene therapy, mainly but not exclusively related to Cystic Fibrosis (CF) .

As part of this work she has gained substantial experience in viral and non-viral in vivo gene transfer to lung and myocardium. In collaboration with DNAVEC Coporation (a Japanese Biotech company) Uta has been responsible for the development of a lentiviral vector, specifically designed to transduce airway epithelial cells.

This vector shows great promise in pre-clinical studies and has been selected to be the Consortium’s leading “wave 2” product.Uta’s involvement in the UK CF Gene Therapy’s clinical trial programme includes overseeing toxicology and vector production, as well as the assessment of novel biomarkers.

Uta's Consortium Publications.


Ms Tracy Higgins, Imperial College London.

Ms Tracy HigginsMiss Tracy Higgins is the Project Manager for the Consortium. She trained as an Administration Manager for Sainsbury's Supermarkets, where from the age of 25 she was running her own department overseeing ordering, price control and financial management.

In 2000 Tracy joined Imperial College London as the Laboratory Manager for the Gene Therapy Group, becoming the Consortium's Project Manager in 2006. Tracy is responsible for the logistics of the Consortium.

This includes managing multi-site contract negotiations, overseeing the £30M budget, reviewing regulatory paperwork and establishing processes to ensure the Consortium has the resources to deliver its programme.

Tracy is also the Manager of the Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

Tracy's Consortium Publications


Dr Stephen Hyde, University of Oxford.

Dr Stephen HydeDr Stephen Hyde has a D.Phil. in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford where he studied the structure and function of ABC proteins, including the protein responsible for Cystic Fibrosis.

During post-doctoral research at Oxford Stephen was the first to demonstrate that gene transfer could correct the Cystic Fibrosis defect in transgenic mice.

This led to an extensive pre-clinical and clinical programme of gene therapy. He has acted as a specialist advisor on the clinical safety of gene therapy vectors to both the Department of Health's Gene Therapy Advisory Committee and the Committee on the Safety of Medicines, and has advised the Department of Health's National Translational Cancer Research Network on the procurement of gene transfer vectors.

Stephen is now a Research Lecturer at Oxford University and co-directs the Gene Medicine Research Group developing gene transfer vectors for clinical application and leads on Regulatory Affairs within the UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium.

Steve's Consortium Publications


Dr Alastair Innes, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Alastair InnesDr Alastair Innes is Clinical Director of Respiratory Medicine for NHS Lothian and Honorary Reader in Respiratory Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

As a member of the Strategy Group, he heads the clinical part of the CFGT research team in Edinburgh.Alastair qualified in Edinburgh, and trained in Newcastle, London and Los Angeles before returning to a consultant post at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

He has worked in Adult Cystic Fibrosis care for 18 years, during which time he was involved in initial trials of nasal CF gene therapy in Edinburgh.

Alastair's principal research interests are in novel clinical physiological measurements of airways disease, and their use to monitor disease processes and response to therapy.

Alastair's Consortium Publications.


Prof David Porteous OBE, University of Edinburgh.

Prof David Porteous OBEProfessor David Porteous was appointed Professor of Human Molecular Genetics & Medicine, University of Edinburgh, in September 1999.

David's other roles include Head of the Medical Genetics Section, Chairman of the Molecular Medicine Centre, University of Edinburgh and Director of the Genetics Core at the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility Western General Hospital Campus.An Edinburgh first degree and PhD graduate in Genetics, David spent three years as a post-doctoral researcher in Oxford, before returning to Edinburgh to take up an (Medical Research Council) MRC Recombinant DNA Training Fellowship with Professor Ed Southern.

In 1983 he moved to the MRC Human Genetics Unit where he was closely involved in transforming the Unit into one of the leading centres in human molecular genetics.A major focus of his work is the application of knowledge emerging from the Human Genome Project to the identification of risk factors, disease processes and new treatments for common disorders prevalent in the Scottish population.

His work on gene therapy for cystic fibrosis includes developing the first transgenic model of the disease to show a lung defect that parallels the human disease.

In the 2013 New Year's Honours David was awarded an OBE for Services to Science.

David's Consortium Publications.


Dr Gerry McLachlan, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Gerry McLachlanDr McLachlan is currently a Group Leader at The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh.

After completing his PhD at the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen in 1992, his interest in CF developed through six years postdoctoral research in the lab of Prof David Porteous in Edinburgh. These studies involved the characterization of a Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Mouse model and the preclinical development of non-viral gene therapy protocols leading to a clinical trial of nasal CF gene therapy in Edinburgh in 1997.  

Subsequently, the main focus of his research has been pre-clinical development of CF gene therapy protocols in vivo to evaluate both safety and efficacy of the Consortium’s candidate non-viral and viral gene transfer agents. Together with Dr David Collie (Roslin Institute), he established protocols for gene delivery in the sheep lung that have supported the progression to clinical trials in CF patients.

He has a particular interest in the application of large animal models to other areas of respiratory disease/biology.

Gerry's Consortium Publications.

Wednesday, October 1st 2014


A pellet of E.coli containing a plasmid expressing a pink fluorescent protein.


A cake that only some of us got to enjoy!


Mouse lung large airway (cell nuclei blue) transduced with an adenoviral vector (green).


Proposed 3D model of the CFTR protein.


Human airway liquid interface cultures transduced with a lentivirus expressing Luciferase.


Light microscope image of a human airway liquid interface cultures. Dark patches are mucous.


E.coli from a large scale industrial production of our clinical trial plasmid pGM169.


DNA fragments being cut from an agarose gel exposed to UV.


Large scale lentivirus production in suspension culture.


Purifying mRNA from tissue samples.


Pellets of DNA following precipitation.


A CFTR Western blot, to confirm protein production in cell culture.


A frozen vial of GL67A (left) and a frozen vial of pGM169 plasmid DNA (right)


Sheep lung parenchyma (cell nuclei blue) transduced with an adenoviral vector (green).


Schematic diagram of the large human airways.