Cardiff University Momentum Award – Dementias

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University

Abstract

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Technical Summary

The MRC Momentum Award will catalyse recruitment of two Cardiff University (CU) Dementia
Rising Stars working in ‘immune pathways’ and ‘polygenic iPS cell disease modelling’ linked to
dementia genetics. This approach aligns to our strategic priority to build capacity in dementia
research (see Section 2), and complements our internationally-leading genetics and
neuroinflammation research groups, who have identified new targets with the potential to deliver
novel drug therapies.
We will recruit in microglial cell biology, given that microglial activation and function is potentially
critical in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology. For example, SPI1, a central transcription factor in
microglial function, has a significant association with AD and shows AD-associated variants
altering gene network expression in monocytes. A second Rising Star, with induced pluripotent
stem cell (iPSC) expertise, will develop a pipeline for human polygenic disease risk modelling.
This individual will create both rare variant isogenic and extreme polygenic risk iPSC models,
plus in vitro models of neuroinflammation for target validation and drug discovery. Current
expertise in iPSCs (Allen) and macrophage biology (Taylor) is not dedicated to dementia. Rising
Star recruitment will, therefore, generate new critical mass, catalyse new research avenues and
facilitate collaborative research with current PIs in our genetics, neurobiology and immunology
groups.
Rising Stars will be hosted in Biosciences or Medicine, where there are excellent facilities and
research support available. In future (see Section 2), we plan to co-locate all our dementia
researchers in a new state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research building. As discussed with the MRC, we request MRC funding for 3-years of Rising Star salaries and two 2-year postdoctoral
salaries, with the Institution covering research consumables, PhD Studentships and permanent
employment for the Rising Stars as a matched contribution.

Projects included

Principle Investigator: Dr Gaynor Ann Smith MC_PC_16030/1

The Pathological Role of Risk Genes and Ageing in Drosophila.

Principle Investigator: Dr Owen M. Peters – MC_PC_16030/2

Understanding the role of neurodegenerative disease risk genes in the ageing nervous system

Publications

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