Welcome to our Race Against Dementia Fellows!
Dr Claire Durrant is relocating from Cambridge to Edinburgh to become the Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellow. The Fellowship is named in recognition of inventor and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson who is supporting the initiative with funding through the James Dyson Foundation.
Dr Durrant’s £500,000 project, funded by the James Dyson Foundation, will investigate the role of tau, a key protein implicated in both frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Over the five-year project, Dr Durrant will investigate the role of tau in keeping synapses – the connections between brain cells - healthy and how these change in Alzheimer’s disease.
The tau protein is an important target for future dementia treatments and understanding more about its role in Alzheimer’s disease will be key for the success of this approach.
Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellow, Dr Claire Durrant said:
“I’m so excited to start this new Fellowship - it’s a career-changing opportunity. I’ll be working with the best minds to help accelerate progress in dementia research. The Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellowship is unique, my mentors are world-leaders in their fields and the global collaborations this project affords will be key to this project’s success.
“I’m proud to be an ambassador for Alzheimer’s Research UK and Race Against Dementia and I can’t thank Sir Jackie Stewart enough for his vision in bringing something different to dementia research, and the James Dyson Foundation for its generous support. I’m determined to show that early career researchers hold the key to tackling dementia for future generations and that by thinking differently about how we approach research, we can make breakthroughs possible.
Dr Hung is relocating from Cambridge to London to become the Race Against Dementia Fellow. Dr Hung’s project, funded by Race Against Dementia, will investigate the role of autophagy, which is a sort of cellular ‘garbage disposal’ system that remove and recycle damaged material to prevent the build up of toxic waste within the cells. Over the five-year project, Dr Hung will investigate whether boosting this ‘garbage disposal’ system could present a new approach to prevent, halt or reverse the symptoms of the disease.
Race Against Dementia Fellow, Dr Hung said: ‘Getting this fellowship is a career-defining opportunity. I am very grateful for Sir Jackie’s vision in bringing Formula One to dementia research. As far as I know, Formula one is famous for precision, innovation and automation. Formula One engineers are very good at problem solving. That is why I am very eager to learn from my mentors, who are world-leaders in their fields, and apply their mind-sets into my research. I truly believe that by working closely together we can create life-changing breakthroughs.’
Dr Croft will be joining UCL from the University of Florida and will explore how genetic risk factors contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and whether these genetic pathways could be targeted with future Alzheimer’s drugs
Race Against Dementia will provide a post-doctoral research position at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. After a global search, Ellen Dicks will join the research team of neurologist David T. Jones, M.D., for three years from Q1 2020.
Ellen is from Amsterdam VUMC, where she has spent the last three years investigating various aspects of brain connectivity and the impact on disease progression.
She will be part of a world-class research team, developing a new disease model of age-associated neurodegeneration within a complex systems framework, using cutting edge multi-modal functional, structural, and molecular neuroimaging and neuropathological data from a large normal aging population and dementia patients.
“I am very excited to join the Race Against Dementia team as a postdoctoral researcher within Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, in collaboration with the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam and, in this way, contribute to accelerating dementia research. My past research has focused on the relationship between brain connectivity loss and disease progression in Alzheimer’s disease. With this fellowship, I am eager to further advance our understanding of the biological basis of brain connectivity.
We still don’t know how measures of brain connectivity change in response to, interact with and have downstream effects on other disease-related processes. This is crucial for further developing these measures as biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, clinical trial development and to better understand the Alzheimer’s disease pathological cascade - with the ultimate goal to prevent brain connectivity loss from occurring.
With the excellent mentorship program, combining both world-leading researchers and industry professionals, this fellowship provides an ideal platform to investigate these questions. I am very grateful to Sir Jackie Stewart and the RAD-Mayo leadership for their vision and being given the opportunity to be part of this team.”
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