Background of our Asthma Research

Much of our work centres around our population based birth cohort – the Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study (MAAS), which is a population of ~ 1000 children who were recruited during pregnancy in 1996/7.  We are the co-ordinating centre for the MRC-funded UK network of birth cohort studies – Study Team for Early Life Asthma Research (STELAR), which includes birth cohorts from Aberdeen, Isle of Wight, Bristol and Kent.

Key Questions

Is asthma a single disease?

There are many ‘phenotypes’ of asthma which may represent different disease processes. In collaboration with experts in machine learning at the Centre for Health Informatics (link) and our industrial collaborator at Microsoft Research in Cambridge (link), within STELAR we are applying novel computational analysis using our new shared secure web based interface (Asthma-elab), to identify endotypes of asthma.

What is the role of immune responses infection and allergens in asthma?

In collaboration with Imperial College, London, and Faculty of Life Sciences, we are applying a systems approach, to model immune development in MAAS, taking account of both responses to pathogens and to allergens. Capitalising on the bank of samples available in our birth cohort we will measure responses at different ages, spanning puberty to understand the changes that occur at a time when the asthma switches from being a disease of boys to a disease more common in girls.


To identify endotypes of asthma, and describe their underlying pathophysiological mechanisms to facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for asthma.