Dr Maura Malpetti: Race Against Dementia Fellow, University of Cambridge

Dr. Maura Malpetti is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Frontotemporal Dementia and Related Disorders of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), where she earned her PhD in Clinical Neurosciences investigating in vivo pathology markers in tauopathies. She originally trained in Italy for a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Cognitive Neurosciences. Her research embraces a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases and to find effective prognostic tools that could empower dementia early detection and clinical trials.

I am so thrilled to become part of the Race Against Dementia family. This 5-year fellowship is a unique opportunity to develop ones own ideas and provide a significant contribution to the fight against dementia, collaborating with centres of excellence in the UK and overseas. I am endlessly grateful to Sir Jackie Stewart, Race Against Dementia and Alzheimer’s Research UK for the chance to join a fantastic team of brilliant minds, and for creating a space that lets us embrace collaborative and fast-paced attitudes, with a motorsports-inspired perspective in our own research and on the road to making a lasting impact on dementia research.

Dr Maura Malpetti: Race Against Dementia Fellow, University of Cambridge

Project title: “Inflammation in frontotemporal lobar degeneration – from diagnosis and prognosis to clinical trials”

Research summary: Despite progress in understanding the causes of dementias, there are still no effective treatments to slow the disease. Most dementias are degenerative with a build-up of harmful junk proteins and chronic subtle brain inflammation. Anti-inflammatory treatments might slow or prevent decline, but clinical trials of new treatments need effective tests to improve prediction of progression and measure inflammation. Dr. Malpetti’s project funded by Race Against Dementia will clarify the role of inflammation in dementia and symptom progression, testing special brain scans and blood tests to measure and predict the illness. She focusses on illness caused by frontotemporal lobar degeneration, a poorly-understood group of conditions that causes both dementia and movement problems. She uses innovative methods to measure inflammation in specific brain areas, and blood of volunteers, who are followed over many years, and will validate these with new tests using brain tissue from volunteers who donated their brains for research.