Postgraduate researchers

Connor Maltby. My research interests lay within the field of molecular neuroscience and particularly the mechanisms that underpin fundamental aspects of neuronal homeostasis. My current project is looking into how complex nucleic acid structures such as G-quadruplexes regulate the transport of translationally repressed mRNAs to distal regions of neurons to be locally translated in response to activity or signalling.

Mercedes Beyna. In the context of neurodegenerative disease, scientists typically point to distinct populations of neurons that are dying. What is it about certain types of neurons that causes them to be especially vulnerable to death? Do they share a common mechanism of cell death? This is the enigma that keeps me at the laboratory bench. I am interested in the molecular determinants of neurodegenerative cell death. The hope is a clearer understanding of these processes will boost the field’s ability to, conversely, find ways of keeping neurons alive and healthy; knowledge that can ultimately contribute to making medicines that slow or prevent neurodegenerative conditions.

Dianne Marquez Lopez. Due to my experience caring for people with dementia, I have always had a keen interest in understanding the cellular and molecular processes associated in neurodegenerative diseases as well as the development of therapeutics in this area. Using novel bioluminescent assays and well-developed microfluidic platforms, I will elucidate the cellular mechanisms of tau aggregation and propagation, which will hopefully shed light into the current debate about tau pathology across neuronal networks in Alzheimer’s disease.

Kirsten Williamson. My research project is looking at the alternative splicing of GADD45a, which occurs in response to some cellular stress. I will aim to identify which splice variant of GADD45a is present in tauopathy patients, to understand the role of GADD45a in these diseases.

Sarah Kelly. My research interests lie in the initial stages of neurodegeneragive diseases, known as tauopathies, that involve the misfolding and aggregation of a protein called tau. My research uses cellular models and fluorescence microscopy to investigate and compare this aggregation in frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. Ultimately, my work aims to provide insight into early disease stages for subsequent therapeutic targeting.