Professor Dylan M Owen PhD, MRes, MSci

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Professor of Immunology and Immunotherapy

Contact details

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Owen's lab works in three main areas: one, the development of methods for super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, with particular focus on statistical image analysis techniques. Here, they have developed a number of avenues for analysing protein distributions (nanoscale clustering) from single-molecule localisation super-resolution microscopy data. Two, studying the biophysics of cell membranes, in particular protein and lipid spatio-temporal organisation at the plasma membrane. They are particularly interested in the mechanisms that regulate membrane protein organisation including protein-protein interactions, the cortical actin cytoskeleton, lipid domains and membrane topography and three, understanding the role of nanoscale organisation in regulating signalling pathways, especially at the T cell immunological synapse. T cells must perform a delicate balance – they should activate when they detect minute amounts of foreign, potentially pathogenic peptides, but not activate in response to the body’s own proteins. Much of the proteins responsible for making such decisions show complex nanoscale organisation, and aberrations in that architecture has links to autoimmune diseases including arthritis, lupus and diabetes.


Interdisciplinary Chair in Immunology and Immunotherapy and Mathematics

  • PhD in Biophysics 2008
  • MRes in Protein and Membrane Chemical Biology 2005
  • MSci (Hons) in Physics 2004


Professor Owen graduated from Imperial College with an MSci in Physics in 2004 having undertaken a final-year project building solid-state lasers in the lab of Paul French. He then Joined the Chemical Biology Centre on a 4 year MRes + PhD program run by the Department of Chemistry at Imperial. Dylan's PhD was joint between Paul French in the Physics Department and Tony Magee in the National Heart and Lung Institute, developing fluorescence microscopy methods to study cell membranes. These were mainly focussed on spectrally resolved microscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) systems and TIRF microscopes. Towards the end of my PhD, I applied these systems to study membranes at the T cell immunological synapse.

Professor Owen then moved to a post-doc position in the lab of Katharina Gaus at the Centre for Vascular research, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. There, he worked on projects using FLIM and Fluorescence Correlation spectroscopy (FCS) to study diffusion and dynamics in cell membranes, funded by a grant and fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC). He also worked on statistical methodology for analysing data from single-molecule localisation microscopy (SMLM) such as PALM and dSTORM. In collaboration with Jeremie Rossy and David Williamson in the lab, they applied these methods to quantify the nanoscale organisation of key T cell signalling proteins.

In 2013, Dylan moved back to the UK to take up a lectureship position at King’s College London, joint between the Department of Physics and the Randall Division of Biophysics. He was awarded an ERC Starter Grant to apply super-resolution microscopy methods to study T cell signalling. Dylan continued to develop new image analysis methodology for microscopy data and apply them to understand the role of nanoscale spatio-temporal organisation in regulating T cells. At King’s he was also responsible for teaching 3rd and 4th year Biophysics modules for the undergraduate Physics programs.

Professor Owen joined the University of Birmingham in September 2019 at an Interdisciplinary Chair joint between the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy and the Department of Mathematics and as a member of the Centre for Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE). His lab continues to develop methodology for super-resolution microscopy, understand the biophysics of the plasma membrane and use that knowledge to elucidate mechanisms underlying T cell signalling in health and disease.


  • Statistical methods for fluorescence microscopy image analysis
  • The nanoscale architecture of the T cell immunological synapse
  • Protein spatio-temporal organisation in health and autoimmune disease


M.J. Shannon, J. Pineau, J. Griffié, J. Aaron, T. Peal, D.J. Williamson, R. Zamoyska, A.P. Cope, G. Cornish* and D.M. Owen*. Differential nanoscale organisation of LFA-1 modulates T cell migration. Journal of Cell Science (accepted). *Equal senior author  

P. Smith, R.M. Ziolek, E. Gazzarrini, D.M. Owen and C.D. Lorenz. On the interaction of hyaluronic acid with synovial fluid lipid membranes. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 21(19), 9845-9857 (2019).

M.J. Shannon and D.M. Owen. Bridging the nanoscopy-immunology gap. Frontiers in Physics 6, 1-8 (2019).

R. Peters, J. Griffié, D.J. Williamson and D.M. Owen. Development of 2-colour and 3D SMLM data analysis methods for fibrous spatial point patterns. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 5(1), 1-8 (2018).

Y. Ma, A. Benda, J. Kwiatek, D.M. Owen and K. Gaus. Time-resolved Laurdan fluorescence reveals insights into membrane viscosity and hydration levels. Biophysical Journal 115, 1498-1508 (2018).

A. Cao, N. Alluqmani, F.H.M. Buhari, L. Wasim, L.K. Smith, A.T. Quaile, M.J. Shannon, Z. Hakim, H. Furmli, D.M. Owen, A. Savchenko and B. Treanor. Galactin-9 binds IgM-BCR to regulate B cell signaling. Nature Communications 9, 3288 (2018).

R. Peters, J. Griffié, D.J. Williamson and D.M. Owen. Quantitative fibre analysis of single molecule localisation microscopy data. Scientific Reports 8(1), 10418 (2018).

J. Griffié, G.L. Burn, D.J. Williamson, P. Rubin-Delanchy and D.M. Owen. Dynamic Bayesian cluster analysis of live-cell SMLM datasets. Small Methods 1800008, 1-6 (2018). *Highlighted in Physics World

A. Suhaj. C. Lorenz* and D.M. Owen*. “Environmentally-sensitive membrane dyes differentially influence their local environment”. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 20(23) 16060-16066 (2018). *Equal senior author

E. Kemal, R. Peters, S. Bourke, S.M. Fairclough, P.E. Bergstrom-Mann, D.M. Owen, L. Sandiford, L.-A. Dailey and M. Green. Magnetic conjugated polymer nanoparticles doped with a Europium complex for biomedical imaging. Photochemical and Photobiological Science 17(6), 718-721 (2018).

G.W. Ashdown, D.J. Williamson, G. Soh, N. Day, G.L. Burn and D.M. Owen. Membrane lipid order of sub-synaptic T cell vesicles correlates with their dynamics and function. Traffic 19, 29-35 (2018).

S. Simoncelli, M. Makarova, W. Wardley, and D.M. Owen. Toward an axial nanoscale ruler for fluorescence microscopy. ACS Nano 11(12) 11762-11767 (2017). (invited perspective).

J. Griffié, L. Shlomovich, D.J. Williamson, M.J. Shannon, J. Aaron, S. Khuon, G.L. Burn, L. Boelen, R. Peters, A.P. Cope, E.A.K. Cohen, P. Rubin-Delanchy and D.M. Owen. 3D Bayesian cluster analysis of super-resolution iPALM data reveals the recruitment of LAT vesicles to the T cell immunological synapse. Scientific Reports 7(4077), 1-9 (2017).

R. Peters, M. Bentham-Muňiz, J. Griffié, D.J. Williamson, G.W. Ashdown, C.D. Lorenz and D.M. Owen. Quantification of fibrous spatial point patterns from single-molecule localisation microscopy (SMLM) data. Bioinformatics 33(11), 1703-1711 (2017).

G.W. Ashdown, G.L. Burn, E. Pandžić, R. Peters, M. Holden, H. Ewers, L. Shao, P.W. Wiseman and D.M. Owen. Live-cell super-resolution reveals the architecture, dynamics and coupling of F-actin and the plasma membrane at the T cell immunological synapse. Biophysical Journal 112(8), 1703-1713 (2017).

O.O. Glebov, R. Jackson, C.M. Winterflood, D.M. Owen, E.A. Barker, P. Doherty, H. Ewers and J. Burrone. Nanoscale structural plasticity of the active zone matrix modulates presynaptic function. Cell Reports 18(11), 2715-2728 (2017).

N.S. Poulter, A.Y. Pollitt, D.M. Owen, E.E. Gardiner, R.K. Andrews. H. Shimizu, D. Ishikawa, D. Bihan, R.W. Farndale, M. Moroi, S.P. Watson and S.M. Jung. Receptor clustering as a mechanism to regulate GPVI signalling in platelets. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 15, 549-564 (2017).

E. Kemal, T.F. Abelha, L. Urbano, R. Peters, D.M. Owen, M. Green and L.-A. Daily. Bright, Near Infrared Emitting PLGA-PEG-Capped Dye-Doped CN-PPV Nanoparticles for Imaging Applications.  RSC Advances 7, 15255-15264 (2017).

P.R. Nicovich, D.M. Owen and K. Gaus. Quantitative analysis of pointillist single molecule localisation microscopy data sets. Nature Protocols 12(3), 453-461 (2017).

J. Griffié, M.J. Shannon, C.L. Bromley, L. Boelen, G.L. Burn, D.J. Williamson, N. Heard, A.P. Cope, D.M. Owen* and P. Rubin-Delanchy*. Bayesian cluster analysis of single molecule localisation microscopy data. Nature Protocols 11, 2499-2514 (2016). *Equal senior author.

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