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Cheney Drew

Dr Cheney Drew

Senior Research Fellow

School of Medicine

Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a senior research fellow (senior trials manager) and deputy director for the Brain Health and Mental Wellbeing division within the Centre for Trials Research. I have a background in pharmacological research, with particular reference to neurodegenerative diseases, having completed my PhD in Huntington's disease.

Since transitioning to clinical research, I have been involved in the development and delivery of trials aimed at evaluating interventions (non-pharmacological and novel advanced therapies) in people with Huntington's disease and other neurological disorders including Tuberous Sclerosis and epilepsy.

I am member of the European Huntington's Disease Network advanced therapies working group, aimed at devising the most efficient and robust methods for evaluating novel, non-traditional, treatments for this rare disorder.

Given the complex and experimental nature of advanced therapies, I am particularly interested in how participants are approached, informed and provide consent to involvement in these trials. This includes listening to the participant voice as a central tenet of trial design.














Book sections




Research Focus

My main research interests include investigating advanced therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, with a particular focus on the impact of participants taking part in these studies and how we might improve experiences for them. This includes supporting the delivery of trials of new and advanced therapies developed by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for the treatment of people with Huntington's disease.

 I am also interested in epilepsy and how we can develop new therapies, not necessarily new medicines, to improve quality of life and outcomes for people with epilepsy.

Current Studies

I co-lead the LEARN (Listening to the experience of participants in neurosurgical trials) study with Dr Emma Lane. This is a qualitative study where we will be interviewing people (and their family members/ carers) who have taken part in a trial for a neurological disorder which required brain surgery for the treatment to be administered. Initially the interviews have been focussed on participants from the GDNF trial for Parkinson's disease, but we are now starting to interview participants from the TRANSEURO cell transplant trial for Parkinson's. We would like to extend this approach to other trials of advanced therapies in other neurodegenerative diseases.

TRIDENT (Trial designs for delivery of novel therapies for neurodegeneration.) The TRIDENT trial focuses on the safety and tolerability of foetal cell transplants in people with Huntington's disease. This involves taking foetal cells (not affected by the genetic mutation that is responsible for HD) and transplanting them into the specific area of the brain where cells are lost as part of the disease. We will then be following up these participants closely to see if the transplant is safe and if the cells remain alive and integrate into the part of the brain where they are transplanted. We will also be talking with aprticipants at all stages of the trial to understand their experiences of taking part in the trial and how this impacts them and their family and friends.

DOMINO-HD (Multi-Domain Lifestyle Targets for Improving ProgNOsis in Huntington's Disease): This JPND funded consortium is investigating how lifestyle and genetic factors may be influencing the progression of Huntington's disease (HD). As part of this we are also looking at how digital technologies (such as activity trackers) can be used to support people with HD and HD research. I will be leading on the use the data collected to develop a lifestyle intervention for people with HD, including people with HD in this process, aimed at improving quality of life for people with HD.

The commercial trials supported by are our highly skilled team include trials of anti-sense oligonucleotide therapies that are delivered via the fluid surrounding the spine, developed by Hoffman-La Roche and Wave Life Sciences, a trial of a viral-mediated miRNA delivery directly into the brain, developed by uniQure and PROOF-HD, a trial investigating the potential of a drug called pridopidine run by Prilenia therapeutics.

We also undertaking clinical trials that use the state of the art imaging facilities in CUBRIC to measure the potential effects on brain function of the drugs under investigation. These include the ATP trial, investing a novel drug acting at P2X7 receptors in the brain and which has anti-inflammatory properties, in the treatment of drug-resistant depression and a study sponsored by Syndesi therapeutics which is investigating a novel compound that could help improve cognition.

Completed studies under analysis

PACE-HD (Physical activity and exercise outcomes in Huntington's disease). In this international trial we looked at the feasibility of a 12 month physical activity intervention in people with Huntington's disease as a nested RCT in a larger observational study of people with HD across Europe and the USA. This study completed in 2020 and results will be published shortly.

FLAME (Fluoxetine, Learning and Memory in Epilepsy) FLAME was a feasibility trial investigating the use of the common anti-depressant drug, fluoxetine (more commonly known as Prozac), for treating the learning and memory problems found in people with a particular type of epilepsy called temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). TLE affects a specific region of the brain that is involved in spatial learning and the formation of memory. Fluoxetine can improve learning and memory in mice with TLE and this study was the first step in investigating if this can be replicated in humans. This study completed in 2019

TRON :The TRON study was designed to look at treating the neurocognitive problems (learning and thinking) in people with a condition called Tuberous Sclerosis (TSC) where tumours (mostly benign) grow in different parts of the body. The trial looked at treating people with a drug called Everolimus which stops the tumours from growing and then measured their performance in certain thinking and learning tasks. This study completed in 2018.


2012-2015  MSc In Epilepsy.  Kings College, London

2003-2007  PhD in Pharmacology. University of Cambridge (Behavioural characterisation of Complexin1 knockout mice)

1999-2003  BSc Pharmacology with study in industry. University of Bristol.

Professional memberships

British Neuroscience Association

International League Against Epilepsy

European Huntington’s Disease Network (Member of Physiotherapy and Advanced Therapies Working Groups).

Academic positions

2015 – 2017        Research Associate/ Trials Manger. Centre for Trials Research, Cardiff University.

2010 -2015          Wales Epilepsy Research Network Manager. College of Medicine, Swansea University.

2007- 2010           Post-doctoral research associate. Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology,University of Bath.

Committees and reviewing

Protocol Editor for Trials

European Huntington’s Disease Network Scientific and Bioethics Advisory Committee (EHDN SBAC) panel of experts

Enroll-HD Clinical trial Committee


I am interested in supervising students on projects involving neurodegenerative conditions and trial methodology


  • clinical trials
  • advanced therapies
  • Huntington's disease
  • Neurodegenerative disease