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Brooke Prakash is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Pharmacology. Here she discusses her project and benefits she has drawn from her experience so far as an Oxford-BMS Fellow.

What is your research background?

Brooke PrakashI am currently investigating intracellular and nucleocytoplasmic transport in human stem cell-derived motor neurons from ALS patients with genetic mutations in TDP-43 or C9ORF72. Fast transport and stringent gatekeeping at the nucleocytoplasmic pores are essential functions in the neurons and I am investigating how ALS mutations affect transport of molecules in and out of the nucleus, as well as the transport of mitochondria, endosomes and lysosomes throughout the cell. The goal is to identify a convergent pathomechanism feasible for therapeutic intervention and to test drugs that may rescue these functions.

What are you researching now?

During my DPhil I became fascinated with how circadian rhythms influence almost all aspects of our biology. I am therefore now continuing circadian research but applying it to the field of neurodegeneration in the Vasudevan group. Sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions are common to many neurodegenerative disorders, and recent clinical evidence suggests that the molecular pathophysiology of these disorders greatly overlaps with sleep and circadian processes. I am therefore exploring in detail the possible mechanisms linking sleep/circadian disruptions to increased markers of neurodegeneration in Alzheimers and Parkinson’s. The aim is to identify potential targets for therapeutic intervention.

What has your experience of this Fellowship been like?

So far my experience has been a very positive one. I have regular meetings with my mentors in BMS (Kevin Dines and Monica Boyle) during which they provide incredibly helpful advice from an industry perspective. In addition this fellowship has enabled me to be part of Oxford’s Industry Fellows and Postdocs Network which provides useful training opportunities as well as networking and socialising events. The fellowship is providing me with an introduction to industry which I am enjoying and am very grateful for.

What are your aspirations for the future of this research?

I would love for my mechanistic research to provide the basis for the development of drugs to help patients in real time. Part of the excitement of working with an industry partner is the possibility of seeing my research applied for the benefit of patients.

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