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Felix Westcott

DPhil student

DPhil student researching the role of autophagy in the development and inflammatory progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

I am medical student currently doing an intercalated DPhil as part of the OxKEN program, researching the development and progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). When people become obese, their liver takes up fat as well and this can lead to inflammation which can be detrimental in the long-term. With the current global rise in obesity, one in four people have NAFLD and, as of yet, there are no treatments available. My research aims to understand why fat accumulation in the liver causes this inflammation and if there are any potential drugs targets, specifically by looking at autophagic and lysosomal pathways. I am currently using an in vitro human liver cell line to investigate the changes in autophagy during NAFLD and hope to explore the effects this has on the inflammatory profile of the liver by using ex vivo human liver slices. During my undergraduate project, I optimised a technique for measuring human gluconeogenesis both in vivo and in vitro and I continue to explore this poorly understood yet fundamental pathway and its relationship to insulin resistance and NAFLD. I also have a keen medical interest in ophthalmology. In my spare time I write and direct musicals and plays and am on the committee for Oxford University Drama Society (OUDS).