Institute of Medical Sciences
Neuroscientist, Imperial College London
The World Health Organization states that every year between 250,000 and 500,000 people around the world suffer a spinal cord injury. In the UK, about 50,000 people live with spinal cord injury, with about 1,000 new cases each year. Spinal cord injury can cause permanent loss of nerve function below the level of injury. There is no cure. The estimated annual cost to the NHS is around £1 billion. Current treatments focus on limiting the extent of damage and helping patients manage the injury and subsequent dramatic lifestyle changes. The lack of therapies for spinal cord injury creates a substantial, unmet, clinical need for millions of patients. Our group aims to develop novel approaches to improve function recovery after spinal cord injury, and we are pursuing the following two research areas:
A Combinatorial Approach For Spinal Cord Repair
Based on our previous experience using novel biomaterials for peripheral nerve repair, my group is focusing on the development of a biomaterial-based combinatorial approach to promote axon regeneration and function recovery after spinal cord injury using relevant in vitro, ex vivo and animal models. In collaboration with colleagues here at Aberdeen and elsewhere, we are developing novel combinatorial strategies including the use of suitable novel biomaterials, novel growth-promoting biomolecules, and electric stimulation for spinal cord repair.
Central Neuropathic Pain After Spinal Cord Injury
My group has a strong interest in the role of neuroinflammation in the development and maintenance of central neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury. We aim to develop novel strategies to target this neuroinflammation in order to prevent and/or treat this common complication that significantly impacts on the quality of life of millions spinal injured patients. We are world leaders in using ethologically relevant and pain-related complex rodent behaviours and outcome measures to facilitate the development of novel analgesics for central neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury.
• Dr Huang is part of the Aberdeen Spinal Injury Research Team and actively collaborates with other Team members to develop novel strategies for spinal cord repair.
• Collaboration with Prof Peter Mccaffery on mechanisms of neuroinflammation.
• Collaboration with Prof Iain Gibson on novel biomaterials for spinal cord repair.
UK and international collaboration:
• Dr Xuenong Bo, Queen Mary University of London
• Prof Divya Chari, Keele University
• Prof Andrew Rice, Imperial College London
• Prof Sussan Nourshargh, Queen Mary University of London
• Prof Marzia Malcangio, King's College London
• The CAMARADES Group, University of Edinburgh
• Prof Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez, University of Glasgow
• Prof Nanna Finnerup, Arhus University
• Dr Julian Taylor, Hospital Nacional de Parapléjicos, Spain
Oxford Biomaterials Ltd., Oxford, England
Current Research Income:
• Aberdeen University Development Trust, Huang, Rajnicek & Shewan, 2015-20
• Tenovus Scotland, Huang & Rajnicek, 2016-17
• Aberdeen University Start-up funding, Huang, 2013-present
• Self-funded International PhD, Huang, Rajnicek & Shewan, 2016-19
• Aberdeen University Development Trust PhD Studentship, Huang, 2014-18
• Institute of Medical Sciences PhD Studentship, Huang & Rajnicek, 2014-19
• International Spinal Research Trust PhD Studentship, Huang & Shewan, 2015-19.
• RS McDonald Trust, Huang & Rajnicek, 2014-17
• Aberdeen University Development Trust, Huang & Rajnicek, 2016-19
In kind contribution:
Oxford Biomaterials Ltd., Huang, 2013-present
Our research is kindly supported by:
• Scottish Rugby Union, Research Grant, Huang, 2013-16
• Development Trust, Equipment Grant, Huang, 2013-16
• Medical Research Scotland Vacation Scholarship, Huang & Varone, 06-08/2015
• Medical Research Scotland Vacation Scholarship, Huang & Varone, 06-08/2016
• Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarship, Huang & Varone, 06-08/2016
• National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia, Rice & Huang, 2013-14
• Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust; Rice & Huang, 2010-11
• Neurotex Ltd., Priestley & Huang, 2008-9
• Wellcome Trust, International Travelling Research Fellowship, Huang, 2001-2
Dr Huang involves in the following teaching duties:
For the Institute of Medical Sciences:
• SM2001 Foundation Skills for Medical Sciences: tutor for various practical workshops
• SM2501 Research Skills for Medical Sciences: tutor for small groups with different research topics
• SM3002 Frontiers of Medical Sciences: course co-ordinator and lecturer; tutor for Student Selected Component on “Spinal Repair Strategies”
• SR3508: lecture on "Spinal cord injury and rehabilitation"
• BM3804/DB3804: lectures on "CNS development"
• BM4004 Advanced Molecules, Membranes & Cells: tutor for tissue processing and immunohistochemistry
• PY4302/AN4302 Developmental Neuroscience: lecture on “Developing Pain” module
For the Dental School:
• BDS 2: lecture on "Pain physioligy"
• BDS 2: lecture on "Wound healing"
For the Medical School:
• Yr1: tutors on various topics
• Yr2: tutors on various topics
Supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students:
• BSc Honours
• MSc/MRes students
• Principal supervisor of 4 PhD students
- Further Info
Dr Huang is the Treasurer of Non Human Pain Special Interest Group (SIG) at the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).
Dr Huang is an Editorial Board Member and Associate Editor of BMJ Open Science.
Dr Huang is an Editor of Current Trends In Medical & Biological Engineering.
Dr Huang involves in the following Administration duties:
• Invitation of seminar speakers and organisation of seminars
• Provide scientific and career advice to BSc Honours, Master and PhD students
• Provide pastoral care to more than 10 personal tutees at UoA
• Act as academic advisors/examiners for PhD students of other academic staff
• Act as a mentor to post-doctoral staff in university’s mentoring scheme
• Manage the social media accounts for the Aberdeen Spinal Injury Research Team (ASIRT)
• Organise and participate in various fundraising activities on behalf of the ASIRT
1. Engage with clinicians with a view of potential translation of our spinal repair research in the future
• Present our work at the annual conference of the International Spinal Research Trust (ISRT) that is attended by UK and international leading scientists and prominent clinicians in the field.
• Engage with clinicians at the National Spinal Injury Unit in Glasgow. Dr Huang has participated in collaborative network meetings organised by the Unit.
2. Use public engagement activities to promote greater public understanding of science and research in the field of spinal cord repair
• We promote our research on the university webpage of Aberdeen Spinal Injury Research Team and using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
• Work with University’s Press Office to disseminate our research as widely as possible to the public as we have done in the past.
• Dr Huang was interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland on 20 Oct. 2014 regarding a clinical case of spinal injury and the potential of our strategies for spinal cord repair.
• Dr Huang’s group is proactive at communicating our work to a wider audience, including at University’s Doors Open Days and May Festivals, and other public outreach events.
• Regular bake sales to fundraise for the ISRT, and through sponsored participation in running events to fundraise for the ISRT.
• Continue to engage with relevant charities such as the ISRT and Scottish Rugby Union (SRU).
• Continue to engage with spinal injured patients and their families through the University’s Development Trust.
3. The Champion of public engagement is our ISRT Nathalie Rose Barr PhD student Alba Guijarro-Belmar:
Current PhD students:
Anna Varone: submitted thesis on 31/03/2019; passed viva on 17/06/2019
Alba Guijarro-Belmar: submitted thesis on 31/03/2019, passed viva on 13/06/2019
Yuting Wei: currently in year 3 of her PhD
Past Group Members:
1. PhD students:
Dr Marieta Georgieva, viva on 31/08/18, graduation on 23/11/18. Marieta is currently a scientist working at 4D Pharma.
2. BSc Honours students:
• Mr Alasdair Thomas Leeson-Payne - awarded a PhD studentship at UoA
• Ms Maria Dumitrascuta - continued with a MRes degree course at UoA
• Ms Megan Katriona Smith - student prize winner, due to complete medicine degree
• Mr Pascal Michael
• Ms Magdalena Jablonska – continuing with a MSc in Industrial Biotechnology at Glasgow University
• Ms Lina Huiying Lau
• Ms Alice Ward - student prize winner, went on to do medicine
• Ms Giulia Capuzzo
• Ms Jessica Mcclure
• Mr Martin Rugema
• Mr Peter Pearson
• Mr Saurav Kataria
• Ms Veronika Petrova
• Ms Gazal Neb
• Mr Sam Gillespie
• Ms Viviane Ida Schulz
• Mr Mindaugas Viskontas
• Ms Emma Kathleen Green
• Ms Niss Larossi
• Ms Paula Rebecca Hippen
• Ms Elena Moratal Torres
3. Master students:
• Ms Leilani Robles Barry - now a Clinical Research Assistant at North Georgia Rheumatology Group, US
• Ms Michelle Gniss, Master student - awarded a PhD studentship from Cambridge University
• Mr Ruben Machado – pursuing medical studies in Canada
• Mr Mihnea Vlad Turcanu - awarded a PhD studentship from Glasgow University
• Ms Maria Dumitrascuta - awarded a PhD studentship from University of Innsbruck
• Ms Yuting Wei - now approved self-funded PhD at UoA
3. Summer Vacation students:
• Mr Jonathan Forbes Lappin, summer vacation student (completed) - Medical Research Scotland Vacation Scholarship winner, due to complete medicine degree
• Ms Raisa Dourado, Science without borders summer student from Brazil
• Ms Nadine Godsman - working experience student from UoA, awarded a PhD studentship at UoA
• Ms Rona Middlemiss - working experience student from UoA
• Ms Mina Khezrian - Honorary Visiting Research Assistant from Tehran, Iran; now RA at UoA
• Ms Alice Ross - year 2 student from UoA, awarded a stipend from CDBC Theme
• Mr Peter Pearson - year 3 student from UoA, MRS Vacation Scholarship winner
• Mr Mindauga Viskontas - year 2 student from UoA, Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarship winner
• Mr Lion Wenzel Budrass - year 2 student from UoA
• Ms Nur Zafirah Muhamat - year 3 student from UoA
• Ms Flavia Troiani - visiting medical student from Brazil