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High-flying BHRC student receives prestigious PhD Scholarship

Monday 1 March 2021 11:09am

Jennifer Palmer image 2021Our cells have a very efficient and tightly controlled recycling system. This process, called autophagy, is increasingly being linked to neurodegenerative diseases. Supported by the prestigious Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship, Jennifer Palmer will be studying the relationship between autophagy and neurodegeneration in Professor David Rubinsztein’s lab at Cambridge University in the UK.

Autophagy not only recycles old parts of the cell, it’s also important for removing damaged components and aggregated proteins. Aggregated proteins are commonly seen in neurodegenerative diseases, so it’s critical to learn how autophagy is regulated. So far, there are no clinically approved drugs that can specifically target autophagy.

Jenni will study how autophagy changes in neurodegenerative disorders. Specifically, she will ask whether the autophagy regulation has gone awry, the steps of autophagy are not happening as they should, or if the components don’t get to the right part of the cell.

Jenni studied the trafficking of recycling system compartments in neurons during her Honour’s year and is currently extending that work in Associate Professor Stephanie Hughes’ lab. She’s excited to be moving across the globe for her next science adventure. “By understanding how the autophagy is regulated and how it changes in neurodegenerative diseases, we can figure out what needs to be fixed.”