Race Against Dementia and Barbara Naylor Charitable Trust Fellow
University of Warwick, UK
Dr Emily Lane-Hill studied Medical Genetics at the University of Leicester, moving on to the University of Warwick for her BBSRC funded PhD in neuroscience. Awarded a Race Against Dementia Fellowship in 2021, she is collaborating with world-leading dementia biomarker experts at the University of Gothenburg.
Emily is the co-lead of the neuroscience research cluster and chair the SLS PostDoc Society at the University of Warwick. She is an associate fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies and an active member of the ARUK midlands network.
“My father has battled Parkinson’s disease for the last 15 years – I’ve witnessed the devastating effects that these complex disorders have on both patients and their families. I am proud to be part of the Race Against Dementia team, working to accelerate progress into finding new treatments, so that we no longer have to live in fear of dementia.”
Dr Emily Lane-Hill
Emily is investigating tau protein and how it disrupts nerve cell function in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Tau is highly expressed in neurons in the brain and helps maintain their correct shape. In disease, tau molecules can misfold, and clump together. These early aggregates are thought to be amongst the most toxic forms of tau, disrupting neuronal function in the very early stages of disease.
Emily uses a highly specialised method which allows her to record the function of a single neuron at a time and then she challenges them with different forms of tau. Emily has demonstrated that tau aggregates can alter neuronal excitability, impair communication between neurons, and disrupt the pathways that underpin learning and memory.
Increased levels of tau can be measured in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, the fluid that surrounds the brain) in early stages of disease, up to 10-15 years prior to symptom onset, and can be useful as a marker for early diagnosis.
Recently, Emily has developed an assay to screen patient CSF with high levels of tau, an easy to access, clinically relevant, source of human tau. She has shown that tau in CSF alters a type of brain activity, involved in learning and memory, called theta oscillations. She is now looking to determine the underlying mechanisms of these changes