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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

 Paul Allen Foundation Grant for Prof Lisa Hall

Alzheimer's research

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has announced the award of Allen Distinguished Investigator (ADI) grants to five teams of researchers with projects that will open new and innovative avenues of research in Alzheimer’s disease by uncovering its elusive biological roots. One of those teams includes Prof Lisa Hall of this department. The projects are funded at a total of $7 million over three years.

Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia leading to progressive memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. The Alzheimer's Society say that there are around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and expect there to be 1 million people with dementia in the UK by 2025. Despite widespread research into treatments for Alzheimer's disease, there is a staggering 99.6% failure rate in clinical trials to bring new treatments to market. 

Lisa's project team is headed by Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir and involves Resolving white matter dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease with novel biosensors.

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.

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.

Professor Elizabeth (Lisa) Hall is Professor of Analytical Biotechnology here 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.

Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

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