Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellow
University of Edinburgh, UK
Dr Claire Durrant earned a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Cambridge, following her studies in Natural Sciences. In 2019, she became a Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellow, supported by the James Dyson Foundation, which awarded her an additional £1 million in 2021, to expand her Edinburgh research laboratory. Claire uses post-mortem human tissue and organotypic cultures to investigate synapse loss mechanisms in Alzheimer’s and related diseases.
“People haven’t thought of working in this way because biology and engineering are two disciplines that normally sit on parallel tramlines. I can’t think of any other science scheme where you get access to different people and game-changing resources in the same way that you do in the Race Against Dementia Dyson Fellowship; it’s phenomenal.”
Dr Claire Durrant
Claire investigates the role of tau, a protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. She studies how it keeps brain cells connections (synapses) healthy and how these change in Alzheimer’s disease.
Claire is particularly interested in how changes in tau can leave synapses vulnerable to attack from microglia, the brain’s resident immune cell. Her toolkit of experimental models includes a novel human brain thin slice culture technique that allows process analysis.
Dyson engineers help analyse brain samples on an atomic or molecular level, applying in-house equipment and expertise usually targeted at battery research.