Bookmark and Share

This article is in the news archive.

Interdisciplinary team awarded an Allen Distinguished Investigator grant worth $1.32 million

Congratulations to Dr Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir et al., on being awarded an Allen Distinguished Investigator (ADI) grant worth $1.32 million. This award is even more noteworthy as it is the first time that a grant has been awarded outside the USA. 

The Allen Distinguished Investigator call for Alzheimer's projects was aimed at providing insights into the basic biological foundations of Alzheimer's, with an emphasis on cell biology. The cohort includes multi-disciplinary teams of research scientists from within the Alzheimer's field paired with scientists who bring new perspectives from outside the field. They will investigate novel and budding areas of research, including the role of gene combinations, white matter damage, pH, and the glymphatic system in disease progression, and development of new methods and tools to study basic processes and identify new treatments.

The 2015 ADI Alzheimer's cohort

Investigator: Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir, University of Cambridge

Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir

Project title: Resolving white matter dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease with novel biosensors

Project team: Dr. Steven F. Lee, Professor Elizabeth (Lisa) Hall, Professor Guy Brown, Professor Carol Brayne, Professor Maria Grazia Spillantini, Professor Michael Coleman

Project description: Half of the human brain is white matter—the tissue that surrounds and insulates neurons—but little is known about how white matter damage occurs in Alzheimer's disease and how it influences the spread of the characteristic protein “tangles” and “plaques” we see in brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. This proposal addresses uncharted territory in Alzheimer's disease research, using a combination of new imaging methods, biosensors and cutting-edge models to enable us to identify the role of white matter in Alzheimer's disease progression for the first time. Importantly, as white matter lesions appear prior to symptom onset and can be monitored noninvasively by new MRI scanners, they may be an ideal biomarker and target for early treatment to block Alzheimer's disease.

Investigator biography: Dr. Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir is a Wellcome Trust Career Development Research Fellow at the Wellcome Trust – MRC Stem Cell Institute and Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge. Her research has focused on understanding the function and biology of the CNS white matter, with the particular aim of understanding how neuronal activity regulates oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination in both health and disease. The main interest of this work is to understand white matter pathology in Alzheimer's disease, with a special focus on myelination. Previously, Dr. Káradóttir held a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin research fellowship after her PhD at University College London, prior to moving to University of Cambridge. Dr. Káradóttir has recently been awarded the Lister Institute Research Prize and selected to the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence. 

Team biographies:

Dr. Steven F. Lee is Royal Society University Research Fellow and Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge. His research focuses on building new biophysical tools to study biomolecules primarily using single-molecule fluorescence techniques.

Professor Elizabeth (Lisa) Hall is Professor of Analytical Biotechnology in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at Cambridge. Her research is focused on understanding how biology can be interfaced with electronic, mechanical and optical systems. She was awarded the SAC Gold Medal in Analytical Chemistry by the Royal Society of Chemistry and was recently appointed CBE in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours List for services to Higher Education and Sport.

Professor Guy Brown is Professor of Cellular Biochemistry at Cambridge. He has published over 150 scientific papers, and several books including: ‘Mitochondria & Cell Death’, ‘The Energy of Life’ and ‘The Living End’. Current research interests include microglia, cell death, mitochondria, nitric oxide, inflammation, and mechanisms of inflammatory neurodegeneration in the brain.

Professor Carol Brayne is a Professor of Public Health Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Cambridge. A main focus of her research has been longitudinal studies of older people following changes over time with a public health perspective and a focus on the brain. She is Director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Professor Maria Grazia Spillantini is Professor of Molecular Neurology in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Cambridge. Her research is focused on the molecular neuropathology of diseases characterized by tau and alpha-synuclein aggregates. She has received several international prizes including the Potamkin Prize of the American Academy of Neurology. She was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, London in 2010 and Fellow of the Royal Society, London in 2013.

Professor Michael Coleman is a Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Cambridge. His research investigates mechanisms of axon degeneration and the roles of axon pathology in a range of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. He has recently been awarded the title of van Geest Professor of Neuroscience at the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair.

Award amount: $1.32 million

Posted on 25/08/2015

Further news

Go to the news index page.