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Ghada Alsaleh


Versus Arthritis Career Development Fellow

After qualifying as a pharmacist, Ghada had always been fascinated by the research world and did not want to restrict herself to dispensing drugs. Driven by her aspiration to become a scientific researcher, she embarked on an academic journey, pursuing an MSc and doctoral research at the University of Strasbourg. Her doctoral project centered around investigating the role of fibroblast-like synoviocytes, cells residing within joints, pivotal in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), a prevalent autoimmune disorder. Contrary to their previous characterization as passive victims in the disease, Ghada demonstrated that these cells exhibit behaviors resembling those of innate immune cells. They engage not only in producing inflammatory agents contributing to joint degradation but also in activating T and B lymphocytes that perpetuate the immune response within the synovium. 

In 2017, Ghada furthered her scientific career by relocating to Oxford. There, she joined the research group led by Professor Katja Simon at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology as a postdoctoral researcher. During this phase, her curiosity took an intriguing turn towards the mechanisms of aging and the intricate regulation of biological processes disrupted during the aging process. Notably, her recent findings highlighted the decrease expression of TFEB, a master regulator of autophagy and lysosomal function, within aging in human lymphoid cells. This deficiency contributes to compromised memory responses of T and B cells in the elderly. These discoveries uncovered potential targets and biomarkers for developing anti-aging interventions focused on human T cells.

Ghada has been awarded funding for her proposal “Targeting autophagy for the treatment of osteoarthritis”. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis worldwide but lacks effective therapy. In this proposal, she aims to design a genetic screen using TFEB protein expression as a read-out to identify new potential targets for the treatment of Osteoarthritis and various age-related diseases.

More recently, Ghada achieved a significant milestone by establishing the United Kingdom's inaugural Space Innovation Lab at the Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Sciences. This pioneering initiative serves as a hub for interdisciplinary collaboration, aiming to advance cellular and molecular biology research within the realm of space exploration. The lab's focus lies in enhancing our comprehension of human physiology and health by investigating the impact of microgravity on aging and age-related diseases.