A scientist at the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) at the University of Dundee has been awarded almost £1.9M from the Wellcome Trust to investigate the causes of Parkinson's disease.
Dr Miratul Muqit has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science to undertake research over the next 5 years that may lead to new ideas on how to diagnose and treat the disorder. Parkinson's is an increasingly common disorder that leads to progressive brain degeneration.
Dr Muqit, Programme Leader at the MRC Unit and Consultant Neurologist at Ninewells Hospital, said, 'Coming up with treatments for Parkinson's has been a major challenge largely due to a lack of understanding on the causes of the disease. Recent genetic breakthroughs have now given us a roadmap on where to start to unravel the disease.'
He will investigate the role of two genes, PINK1 and Parkin, which are mutated in patients with inherited forms of Parkinson's. These genes act together to remove damaged proteins from cells and this forms an important defense mechanism for the brain.
Dr Muqit added, 'This funding boost from the Wellcome Trust is really a reflection of the many talented people in my lab as well as the outstanding research environment and resources of the MRC Unit. I am extremely grateful to the Wellcome Trust for their on-going funding of my work. We have entered a really exciting phase of our research and over the next few years we hope to have a much better understanding of how PINK1 and Parkin mutations lead to Parkinson's and to discover drug targets that could one day become effective treatments for the condition.'
Professor Dario Alessi, Director of the MRC Unit, added, 'I am delighted that Miratul has been able to secure this highly sought after fellowship to pursue his valuable research into better understanding the molecular causes of Parkinson's. Miratul is on the cusp of making some tremendous breakthroughs in the area of PINK1 and Parkin biology that could lead to new ideas about how to better treat and diagnose Parkinson's in the future. Miratul is currently the only Clinician in Scotland to hold a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science. The University of Dundee MRC Unit is privileged to be able to host Miratul's research laboratory.'
Dr Muqit's award follows the news last month that the Medical Research Council has awarded the MRC-PPU £24million to continue its work over the next five years. The funding will the unit to expand and recruit a number of new researchers to Dundee. It will also allow the integration into the MRC-PPU of the Scottish Institute of Cell Signalling, which was established at Dundee in 2008 following support of £10m from the Scottish Government.
The MRC-PPU already supports 162 staff from 25 countries.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About the MRC-PPU
The MRC-PPU was established in 1990 by the MRC to investigate the role that protein phosphorylation play in regulating human diseases and originally comprised two research groups less than 20 staff lead by its previous Director Sir Philip Cohen. During this period the Unit has expanded substantially and by the end of 2013 will comprise 20 major research groups. The MRC-PPU has trained over 100 PhD students, 300 postdocs, and provided tremendous employment opportunities for many talented support staff. Its researchers have published over 500 research papers that have greatly contributed to our understanding of human diseases such as cancer, immune disorders and neurodegeneration. Most of the researchers who have worked in our Unit have gone on to highly successful careers all over the world that include starting companies, running major research institutes and laboratories, working in pharmaceutical companies as well as undertaking senior administrative roles.