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20 February 2023

Dr Emma Clayton Awarded Alzheimer's Research UK Senior Research Fellowship

Dr Clayton received £417,000 ARUK Fellowship to investigate brain cells communication in neurodegenerative diseases.

Emma Clayton 2023
Dr Emma Clayton

The project Disrupted presynaptic proteostasis: a convergent pathomechanism for synaptopathy in frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis will investigate the dysfunction of the synapse in two neurodegenerative diseases with overlapping genetic and pathological features. No cure is currently available for either disease. This makes identifying the common disease pathway a priority.

In frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the loss of synapses - the structures that support communication between brain cells - occurs before the loss of brain cells. Dr Clayton will use the novel genetic tools she developed to examine what happens to synapses in FTD and ALS, in terms of protein synthesis and degradation within synapses. This is based on her previous work which established that FTD cases with CHMP2B gene mutation show synaptic dysfunction.

The study will look at the disease model expressing common FTD/ALS pathology of TDP-43 clumps. TDP-43 protein clumps have been found in 97% of ALS cases and 45% of FTD cases. These clumps are also seen in Alzheimer’s disease and Traumatic Brain Injury, indicating their widespread role in brain health. The findings will provide insight into the common synaptic changes in neurodegeneration and identify new targets for early intervention in disease progression.

I am delighted to have been selected for the ARUK Senior Research Fellowship. This award will allow me to investigate a possible common pathway of several neurodegenerative diseases which can lead to new targets for interventions and therapies.”

Dr Emma Clayton, Research Fellow at the Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience and UK DRI at King’s.

ARUK Senior Research Fellowships support researchers with a track record of nationally competitive research and clear plans to manage their own independent research group and become internationally recognised within the field of biomedical dementia research. 

This award, starting 1 April 2023, launches Dr Clayton’s group in the Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience.

For more information, please contact Annora Thoeng (School of Neuroscience Senior Communications and Engagement Officer)