Research in Aberdeen
We support research across all the fields of clinical, biomedical, physical or engineering sciences related to medicine, including in the nursing, midwifery & allied health professions. The following are awards made to researchers working in Aberdeen's universities and hospitals.
Awards in 2011-12
The first of the new PhD Studentships were awarded during 2011-12, including one to Aberdeen University. Following advertisement and interview, a student was appointed to start her PhD research work from 1 October 2012. The award is as below:
Mr Vojtech Prazak (Microbiology, Aberdeen University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Samantha Miller, to investigate the lipid-protein interactions of the YnaI mechanosensitive channel.
Dr Heather Wilson* (Institute of Medical Sciences) will be supervising Miss Miriam Obliers during her studentship, "Novel small molecule modulators of the antioxidant response pathway: potential for therapy in cancer/inflammatory disease". This research will also involve close working with Aquapharm BioDiscovery Ltd.
This project aims to develop a tiered screening strategy to detect the activity of novel secondary metabolites from purified extracts of marine organisms which show promise for the potential future development of new anti-cancer and/or anti-inflammatory drugs. The work will first try to identify which purified compounds show strong functional activity, but with minimum cell toxicity or induction of apoptosis, then the specific mechanisms and cell signalling pathways involved which allow these compounds to exert their functional ability. Thereafter, their pharmacological effects, in both in vitro model tumour cell systems and established inflammatory cell systems. Understanding the mechanisms of action and likely clinical effectiveness of potent, non-toxic and non-electrophilic compounds derived from natural marine-based secondary metabolites will be of huge benefit in developing lead compounds with minimum 'off target' effects for these two important therapeutic areas.
[*Dr Wilson has taken over this award, following the death of Professor Hawksworth, to whom it was made originally.]
Ms Katrina Wallen (Neuroscience, Aberdeen University) carried out an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship supervised by Dr Peter Teismann, to investigate whether licorice extract can provide protection against Parkinson's disease.
Awards in 2010-11£149,861 to Dr Bing Lang, Dr Sanbing Shen & Professor Colin D. McCaig (Institute of Medical Sciences, Aberdeen University) and Dr Colin Smith (Pathology, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh), for a three-year project aiming to uncover novel biomarkers for schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect 1 in 50 people. No effective medication is available and current antipsychotic drugs often have unpleasant side-effects. This project aims to explain aspects of abnormal brain development in schizophrenia and identify new biomarkers which may be useful in future drug development.
Ms Joanne Healy (Medicine, Aberdeen University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Professor Helen Galley, to study the potential of piracetam to protect mitochondria in sepsis and neuropathy.
Mr Jay Hutchison (Microbiology, Aberdeen University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Mirla Delibegovic, to study the role of protein-tyrosine phosphatase 18 in the regulation of AMPK signalling.
Ms Emma Joseph (Human Embryology & Developmental Biology, Aberdeen University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Bing Lang, to investigate the role of a novel serine/theomine kinase in neurite outgrowth.
Ms Vojtech Prazak (Medical Microbiology, Aberdeen University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Samantha Miller, to carry out structure-function studies of critical gating residues in mechanosensitive channels.
Ms Marta Wylot (Sports & Exercise Science, Aberdeen University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Aivaras Ratkevicius, to investigate whether inhibition of mitochondrial citrate synthase can be used in prevention of obesity.
Awards in 2006-07£79,938 to Dr Sharon Mitchell & Professor John Speakman (Integrative Physiology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen), for an 18-month project to investigate early onset of leptin insensitivity in response to high-fat diet.
This study will investigate the changes occurring in the brain as obesity develops, notably a reduction in responsiveness to the hormone leptin which regulates food intake, with the aim of identifying possible targets for future drug development.
Awards in 2005-06£66,210 to Dr Keith Kelso Hussey, Miss Julie Brittenden (Vascular Surgery Unit, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary), Dr Isobel Ford, Dr Frank Thies & Professor Michael Greaves (Department of Medicine & Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen) for a one-year randomised controlled trial of oral L-arginine supplementation on platelet and endothelial function and walking distance in patients with peripheral arterial disease.
People with peripheral arterial disease (hardening of the leg arteries) tend to have 'sticky' blood and, as well as this increasing their risk of death from heart disease, they also have difficulty walking any distance. This project will investigate the benefits of adding the semi-essential amino acid, L-arginine, to the diet.
Awards in 2003-04£79,982 to Dr Sanbing Shen (Biomedical Sciences, Aberdeen University) for a two-year investigation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural tube defects.
By studying the activity of two enzymes found in the developing brain, this progect aims to establish if, in inappropriate quantities, they are a cause of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
£78,002 to Dr Karen McArdle (Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) for an 18-month study of the mechanisms and relevance of cannabidiol induction of cytochrome P450.
Cytochrome P450 is the major liver enzyme responsible for drug metabolism, however it can be inhibited or induced by other chemicals, making prescribing multiple medicines challenging. Cannabis extract is being trialled for the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis and this research seeks to study its effects on the enzyme, to predict its effects on drug metabolism.
Awards in 2002-03£57,593 to Dr Jon Martin Collinson (Biomedical Sciences, Aberdeen University) for a one-year investigation of the molecular basis of cell-surface abnormalities in eye disease resulting from mutations in the transcription factor Pax6.
Pax6 eye gene mutations cause sight-threatening abnormalities for which surgery is often ineffective. This research will study the cell surfaces on normal and mutated eyes to understand how such mutations cause sight problems.
The Mrs Robina Menzies Smith Medical Research Scholarship 2003-04 was awarded to Dr Stuart Suttie (Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary) for research into the prediction of response to chemotherapy inpatients with oesophageal cancer, using positron emission tomography (PET).
The Cruden Medical Research Scholarship 2003-04 was awarded to Dr Claire A. Higgins (Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital) to carry out a serial analysis of protein expression in anogenital lichen sclerosus.
Awards in 2001-02£69,924 over two years to Dr Renate Kain (Pathology, Aberdeen University) for the identification of gp130 - a novel target of autoimmune attack in glomerulonephritis.
In focal necrotising glomerulonephritis the healthy cells of the kidney are attacked by antibodies made by the body's immune system. These antibodies have been shown to recognise a molecule called gp130, found in the kidney small blood vessels. The aim therefore of the research is to study gp130 and formulate a test for it.
£33,978 to Dr Bernadette Connolly (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) to extend her previously-funded studies of the changes in protein and gene expression in skeletal muscle cells in vivo during dedifferentiation induced by infection with the nematode parasite Trichinella spiralis.
£69,903 over two years to Drs Lindsay S. Cairns, Robert N. Barker & Andrew J. Rees (Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) to investigate the differential responses of human T helper cells to Type IV collagen chains as a possible basis for novel therapies.
The basement membrane of the kidney's filtration unit is attacked by the body's immune system in a group of disorders known as glomerulonephritis. Different membrane component molecules however, respond differently to this attack so this research intends to establish why these responses differ, so the researchers can more fully understand the disease process.
£70,000 for one year to Dr Mark Ramsdale (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) to dissect the cell death machinery of the fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, in a search for novel antifungal therapies.
Cell death is a normal function in cells of all types, including fungi such as Candida albicans. This research will investigate the cell death pathways of Candida, to find potential treatment targets for resistant fungal pathogens that cause problems for immunocompromised individuals.
£69,563 over 18 months to Dr Michael J. Rogers (Bone Research Group, Department of Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) to investigate the role of Rab GTPases in osteoclast physiology.
It is thought that natural bone breakdown and remodelling is regulated by proteins. By studying one such protein, Rab GTPase, the researchers aim to gain a greater understanding of healthy bone processes.
The Cruden Medical Research Scholarship 2002-03 was awarded to Miss Heather Kirk (Surgery, Aberdeen University) to study immunonutrition in patients with upper gastrointestinal cancer: optimal immunomodulation and effects on modulation of tumour behaviour.
Awards in 2000-01£43,000 over 14 months to Drs Gerome D. Breen & David St Clair (Mental Health, Aberdeen University) to investigate the role of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the pharmacogenetics and genetics of mood disorders.
Even small changes in genetic sequences can have an impact upon health and the body's response to drugs. This research will look at such a small change and its role in mood disorders.
£69,970 over two years to Dr Matthew C. Wright (Molecular & Cell Biology), Professor Gabrielle Hawksworth (Medicine & Therapeutics) and Dr Graeme Murray (Pathology, Aberdeen University) to investigate the function of arachidonic acid-metabolising cytochrome P450 2J3 in hepatic stellate cells and its role in modulating liver fibrosis.
Before liver cirrhosis occurs a process called fibrosis takes place, where fibrous tissue accumulates in liver cells, disturbing the structure and function. This research will attempt to modify fibrosis using enzymes, aiming to prevent progression to cirrhosis.
£99,826 over three years to Drs Morgan G. Blaylock & Garry M. Walsh (Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) and Dr J. Graham Douglas (Respiratory Medicine, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary) to investigate the role of glucocorticoid receptors and caspase activation in the induction of eosinophil apoptosis in glucocorticoid-sensitive and glucocorticoid-resistant asthma.
A key process in asthma is inflammation caused by eosinophils, a type of white blood cell not found in healthy lungs. The researchers will investigate how steroid treatments cause the death of such cells, in order to develop further treatments for patients who are steroid-resistant.
£57,638 over 18 months to Dr Alan J. Johnstone (Orthopaedic Surgery, Aberdeen University) to investigate the regenerative potential of meniscal cartilage exposed to recombinant growth factors in vivo.
Injuries to knee joints are fairly common and often involve the supporting structures such as the meniscal cartilages. This research will investigate the potential for regeneration of such structures, when exposed to growth factors.
The Mrs Robina Menzies Smith Medical Research Scholarship 2001-02 was awarded to Mrs Pamela Alexandra Barker (Surgery, Aberdeen University) for a study of the modulation of protein kinase C intracellular signalling pathways, invasive potential and apoptosis in prostate cancer by conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Awards in 1999-2000£69,726 over two years to Dr Lars P. Erwig (Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) for an investigation of macrophage programming in inflammation.
£69,882 over two years to Dr Jonathan Pettitt (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) to investigate RAS signalling and epidermal cell fate in the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo.
£62,411 over 18 months to Dr Christine Bell, Ms Caroline Clark & Professor Neva E. Haites (Medical Genetics, Aberdeen University) to investigate the role of regulatory sequences of the candidate genes in the pathogenesis of hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy Type 1 (HMSN1).
£69,973 over two years to Dr David J. MacEwan (Biomedical Sciences, Aberdeen University) to investigate controlling tumour necrosis factor receptor subtypes in human tumour cells as a possible novel anti-cancer therapy.
£35,831 over one year to Dr Bernadette Connolly (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) to investigate the changes in protein and gene expression in skeletal muscle cells in vivo during dedifferentiation induced by infection with the nematode parasite Trichinella spiralis.
The Mrs Jean V. Baxter Medical Research Fellowship 2000-02 was awarded to Dr Laura C. Lawrie (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) to use proteomics, a powerful new analytical technique for comparing proteins found in tumour tissue samples with those found in normal tissues, as a means of identifying possible targets for the development of both new early screening methods and new treatments in colorectal cancer.
A Medical Research Scholarship 2000-01 was awarded to Dr Emma Honey (Medical Microbiology, Aberdeen University) to investigate the effectiveness of current screening strategies for Chlamydia trachomatis and indentify the amount of reinfection following treatment. In addition, she will clarify individual preference and acceptability of screening among women at risk of contracting the disease with the aim of developing improved screening strategies for the future.
Awards in 1998-99£69,061 over two years to Dr David Kluth (Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) to investigate the possibilities for macrohage-mediated gene therapy in glomerulonephritis.
£67,639 over two years to Drs Graeme Nixon (Biomedical Science) & Isobel Ford (Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) for a study of activation of calcium-indepentent regulation of myosin light chain phosphorylation in platelets - a novel mechanism for activation.
£67,364 over two years to Drs Howard McLeod (Medicine & Therapeutics), Graeme Murray (Pathology) and Professor Jim Cassidy (Medicine & Therapeutics, Aberdeen University) for an evaluation of chromosomal regions associated with resistance to chemotherapy.
£70,000 over two years to Dr James Shaw (Diabetes Research Laboratory, Aberdeen University) and Charlotte Maltin (Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen) for an evaluation of the potential for 'off-the-shelf' gene therapy for diabetes by simple intramuscular injection of an insulin gene.
A Medical Research Scholarship 1999-2000 was awarded to Dr Susan Kerr (Aberdeen Royal Infirmary) to study the effect of nitric oxide donation on regional cerebral blood flow and metabolism in acute ischaemic stroke
Awards in 1997-98£61,405 over 18 months to Dr Rona L. Carmichael, Proessor Nigel R. Webwter & Dr Helen F. Galley (Anaesthetics & Intensive Care, Aberdeen University) for a study of the interleukin-8 gene and abnormalities of gas exchange following cardiopulmonary bypass.
£68,118 over two years to Drs Michael J. Rogers & Meip Helfirch and Professor Stuart H. Ralston (Medicine & Therapeutics) and Professor Michael Greaves (Haematology, Aberdeen University) to study the antitumour effects of bisphosphonates in multiple myeloma.
£28,076 over one year to Professor John E. Fothergill & Dr William T. Melvin (Molecular & Cell Biology) and Dr Graeme I. Murray (Pathology, Aberdeen University) to study the role of matrix metalloproteinases in tumour invasion.
£33,671 over one year to Dr Colin D. McCaig (Biomedical Sciences) & Professor John V. Forrester (Ophthalmology, Aberdeen University) to investigate sprouting nerves and healing cornea.
Awards in 1996-97£34,396 to Drs Andrew J.R. Porter & Charles Cunningham (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) and Dr Grant Cumming (Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Aberdeen University) for a one-year project aimed at the isolation of a novel repertoire of auto-antigens associated with recurrent miscarriage.
£74,224 to Dr Janet Liversidge (Ophthalmology) & Dr Graeme Nixon (Biomedical Sciences, Aberdeen University Medical School) for a two-year project for characterisation of the early endosomal compartment involved in the recycling of MHC Class II molecules and peptide exchange as an alternative pathway for presentation of autoantigens.
Awards in 1995-96£100,000 as a capital grant to Professors John E. Fothergill & William Harris (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) for the cost of the SHERT laboratory in the Institute of Medical Sciences.
£55,411 to Professor John E. Fothergill and Dr William T. Melvin (Molcular & Cell Biology) and Dr Graeme I. Murray (Pathology, Aberdeen University) for a study of the activation and inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in tumour invasion.
£68,332 to Professor William J. Harris (Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen University) for a study involving the identification of the repertoire of autoantigens recognised by B and T cells from patients with multiple sclerosis.
£3,702 as a supplement to Dr David W. Rae (Cruden Medical Research Scholar 1995-96; Obstetrics & Gynaeology, Aberdeen) for his investigation of the mechanisms controlling dilatation of the human pregnant cervix using biochemical, biomechanical and magnetic resonance imaging techniques.
Awards in 1994-95£33,004 to Mr David Gough, Steven Heys, Ben Younes and Professor O. Eremin (Surgery) and Drs J. Broom & Ph.H. Whiting (Clinical Biochemistry, Aberdeen University Medical School) for a one-year investigation of the potential for exogenous recombinant interleukin-2, administered in low doses, to reduce tumour-assocated cachexia and endotoxin sensitivity.
The Cruden Medical Research Scholarship 1995-96 was awarded to Dr David William Rae (Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Aberdeen University & Aberdeen Maternity Hospital) to carry out biochemical, biomechanical and MRI studies of the human pregnant cervix, with a view to improving understanding of the mechanisms controlling dilatation of the cervix.