Anna Kordala (2017-2021)
Project: Identifying epigenetic modifiers of survival motor neuron protein using small molecules
Supervisors: Dr Suzan Hammond and Prof Matthew Wood
I began my career with a masters degree in Pharmacy (Medical University of Lodz, Poland). During my masters, I had my first experience of lab work during a placement at the University of Chicago (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics), where I studied mistranslation in mammalian cells. Later, I returned to Poland and worked in clinical trials management. In 2016, I moved to Oxford, initially as a Research Assistant in Prof Wood's group, and later as a DPhil student under the supervision of Dr Suzan Hammond. My current research focus is spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which is the main genetic cause of infant mortality. Specifically, I am trying to identify epigenetic mechanisms regulating the SMN protein, the insufficiency of which leads to SMA. Having the support of the DTP has been hugely beneficial to me. I started my DPhil pregnant, so I was very grateful to be able to take 9 months off (although up to a year was possible) and also benefit from a funded maternity leave. I have also successfully applied for a supplemental funding award and used it to take part in a Randomised Controlled Trials course. That was especially valuable to me as I am planning to pursue a career in clinical trials after graduation. In the long-term I hope to continue working in the field of rare diseases such as SMA, treatments for which are now gaining momentum, with the first-ever therapies entering the market right now.