Horrocks Lab Researcher Awarded MND Association Fellowship

Congratulations to Dr Rebecca Saleeb, who has been awarded the Lady Edith Wolfson Non-Clinical Research Fellowship by the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association.

The Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowship Programme attracts and develops the careers of outstanding young Clinical and Non-Clinical researchers. The programme is funded by the MND Association as part of their aim to train and retain the ‘brightest and best’ laboratory and clinical researchers, to create future scientific leaders in the field of MND Research.

Beccy is a postdoctoral researcher in the Horrocks lab. Her research seeks to identify unique signatures of ALS, the most common form of motor neurone disease.

Dr Rebecca Saleeb portrait

ALS is caused by the excessive accumulation of otherwise necessary protein, which clumps together to form toxic “aggregates”, leading to nerve cell death in the brain and spinal cord. As nerve cells cannot replace themselves, their loss impacts brain function. The differences in symptoms and severity between patients is likely due to differences in the patient-specific features of the accumulating protein, which could increase its toxicity or help it evade the cell’s “disposal system”. It is essential that we understand the diverse forms of the aggregates that underpin these differences and develop methods to detect them early; doing so will allow us to identify the most appropriate clinical trial for each patient and progress the development of life-changing personalised therapeutics. However, proteins are extremely small, about 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, making it extremely difficult to detect differences in their features. We have developed technology capable of characterising protein aggregates in unprecedented detail. In this project, I will use this state-of-the-art technology to characterise the differences between protein aggregates in post-mortem patient tissue. I will use this information, alongside knowledge of how the disease developed in each case, to identify disease-specific aggregate “strains”, and investigate their suitability as early prognostic markers.

I’m delighted to have been awarded the Lady Edith Wolfson Non-Clinical Research Fellowship. ALS is a devastating disease, and I am grateful to the MND Association for supporting my research into better understanding the molecules that drive it. It is truly a scientist’s dream to work on such impactful science and with the continued support of my incredible mentors and collaborators, I hope it will be the start of a fruitful independent research career.

The whole group are overjoyed that Beccy has been awarded a Lady Edith Wolfson Non-Clinical Research Fellowship from the MND Association. Beccy has had a huge positive impact on the group since joining in 2021, and her success in being awarded one of these extremely competitive fellowships is a result of her hard work, determination, and ability. I’m sure this award will be the first of many, and I’m looking forward to seeing the high impact results of her work as the project progresses.

The MND Association funds research, improves care and provides support for people with MND, their families and carers. Visit the links below to find out more about the MND Association and its work.

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