Race Against Dementia Fellow
University of Cambridge, UK
Dr Maura Malpetti is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Frontotemporal dementia and Related Disorders of the University of Cambridge, 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, where she came across neuroimaging and began to specialise in PET imaging and neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr Malpetti was awarded the RAD Fellowship in 2021 and 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. She enjoys organising research outreach events within her lab and beyond aimed at people with dementia and their families.
“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. The RAD Fellowship lets us embrace collaborative and fast-paced attitudes, with a motorsports-inspired perspective, in our own research.”
Dr Maura Malpetti
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 clarifies the role of inflammation in dementia and symptom progression, testing special brain scans and blood tests to measure and predict the illness.
Maura focusses on illness caused by frontotemporal lobar degeneration, a poorly understood group of conditions that cause 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 validates these with new tests using brain tissue from volunteers who have donated their brains for research.