Research in Dundee

We support research across all the fields of clinical, biomedical, physical or engineering sciences related to medicine. The following are awards made to researchers working in Dundee's universities and hospitals since 2001. [Link to information about awards made prior to 2001]

Awards in 2013-14

Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships were awarded as follows:
Emanuel Ferreira Lopes (Neuroscience) supervised by Dr Andrew Irving, for a project entitled The prokineticin system as an emergent modulator of neuronal function
Fiona Plain (Pharmacology) supervised by Dr Sheriar Hormuzdi, for a project entitled, Investigating the importance of KCC2 phosphorylation in regulating chloride extrusion
Ana-Maria Ristoiu (Neuroscience) supervised by Dr Jenni Harvey, for a project entitled, Evaluation of the potential use of leptin mimetics in the treatment of neurodegenerative disease

Awards in 2012-13

PhD Studentships awarded during 2012-13 included the following to Dundee University:

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Dr Gillian Smith (Division of Cancer Research) will be supervising Emma Joseph during the studentship, "Specificity of fibroblast growth growth factor-induced signalling pathways in human tumours - identification of novel therapeutic targets?". This research will also involve close working with Dundee Cell Products
Ovarian cancer is difficult to treat - it is often widespread at diagnosis, and treatment is palliative rather than curative. Ovarian cancer patients are primarily treated by chemotherapy, although response is unpredictable, and often limited by the development of drug-resistant disease. There is therefore an urgent clinical need to understand how ovarian tumours spread and become drug resistant, and to develop better treatments. Many new drugs in development are targeted to "growth factors", specialised proteins produced by tumours, which promote cell growth. We are interested in fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) - we have shown that the amount of a protein called fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1) varies widely, and is increased in more advanced ovarian tumours. We have created novel experimental models with different amounts of FGF1, and shown that the amount of growth factor produced determines whether tumours respond to cisplatin and carboplatin, the chemotherapy drugs most commonly prescribed to ovarian cancer patients. In this project, we will further investigate FGFs and related proteins in ovarian and other common tumours including breast, colorectal and lung cancers. We will identify additional chemotherapy drugs, where tumour growth factors influence response, and will investigate whether blocking growth factor production can halt tumour spread and/or influence response to chemotherapy.

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Professor Emanuele Trucco (School of Computing) will be supervising Andrew McNeil during his PhD Studentship, "Whole body MRI clinical atheroma analysis". This research will also involve close working with Toshiba Medical Visualisation Systems
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality in the UK and was responsible for over 50,000 premature deaths in 2008. The economic burden of CVD continues to rise, the overall annual cost in the UK is £30bn. The burden of cardiovascular disease is predicted to increase due increased obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and old age. While about half (48%) of deaths are from coronary disease (CHD) and a quarter (28%) from stroke, the burden of CVD is spread across the different vascular territories within an individual. For instance, 40% of patients with leg arterial disease (PAD) have neck arterial disease with a risk of stroke, or kidney arterial disease, with a risk of high blood pressure and kidney failure, while the majority die of undetected CHD. Identification of the severity and distribution of the burden of CVD in different vascular territories in an individual presenting with cardiovascular symptoms, e.g. leg, at an early stage would be expected to alter patient management and lead to improved patient outcomes. This staging of cardiovascular disease is analogous to the disease staging undertaken in cancer. Whole body cardiovascular MRI (WBCVMR) offers a new, non-invasive, single point, comprehensive cardiovascular disease imaging assessment which, when combined with a new quantitative analysis technique, could provide the necessary assessment of CVD distribution, severity and risk of early mortality. The key research challenge is to develop a robust image processing analytical tool that can quantify disease from the MBCVMR examination.

Awards in 2011-12

The first of the new PhD Studentships were awarded during 2011-12, including two to Dundee University. Following advertisement and interview, students were appointed to start their PhD research work from 1 October 2012. The awards are as follows:

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Dr David Meek (Medical Research Institute) will be supervising Mr Sumanth Iyer during his studentship, "Improving the sensitivity of a novel PIM kinase-targeted therapeutic agent, CXR1002, through identification and modulation of cross-talking pathways". This research will also involve close working with CXR Biosciences
PIM protein kinases are a group of highly related signalling molecules that normally regulate the growth and survival of cells. Failure of cells to regulate these molecules occurs in a range of diseases including cancer. The development of drugs that inhibit these molecules offers the potential to block the contribution PIM kinases make to the development of disease. Defining pathways that interact or cooperate with PIM will improve understanding of basic disease processes. Defining approaches to improve sensitivity to the recently-developed PIM inhibitor (CXR1002) should benefit continued clinical trials and, ultimately, effective patient treatment.

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Dr Jennifer Woof (Medical Research Institute) will be supervising Miss Lois Paton during her studentship, "Construction and characterisation of anti-tumour magnetic fusion proteins for use in diagnostics and therapeutics". This research will also involve close working with Integrated Magnetic Systems Ltd.
Through the development of novel magnetic antibody-based technology, this project aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, using an approach applicable to many diseases, including arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships were awarded as follows:

Ms Gillian Scott (Neuroscience, Dundee University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Sheriar Hormuzdi, for a project entitled, Are Electrical Synapses Plastic? Studies in a Novel Transgenic.
Ms Rebecca Crook (Medicine, Dundee University) carried out an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship supervised by Dr Jenni Harvey, for studies on targeting the estrogen system to treat CNS-driven disease.
Mr Paul Middleton (Medicine, Dundee University) carried out an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervison of Dr Graham Rena to investigate the guanidine group as a mitochondrial tag and its implications on drug function.

Awards in 2010-11

£141,512 to Dr Sarah J. Coulthurst (Division of Molecular Biology, Dundee University) for a two-year investigation into the role of a new protein secretion system in the virulence of the opportunistic pathogen, Serratia marcescens.
The bacterium called Serratia marcescens is the source of many hospital-acquired infections (HAI). This project seeks to improve detailed understanding of the steps in the infection process, with the results contributing to the search to find new ways to combat HAI.

Ms Imogen Bidwell (Medicine, Dundee University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Jenni Harvey, to study oestrogen and its therapeutic potential as a cognitive enhancer.
Ms Agnieszka Rybacka (Biomedical Sciences, Dundee University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Caroline Stewart, to investigate the effect of short-term, high-fat feeding on cognition.
Ms Catriona Neil (Medicine, Dundee University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Julie-Ann Woods, to study phototoxicity and photoallergy of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Ms Faith Dalgaty (Medicine, Dundee University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Andrew Irving, to investigate the pharmacology and cellular expression of GPR92, a novel lipid-sensing receptor.

Awards in 2009-10

Mr William Barnard (Biomedical Sciences, Dundee University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr William Fuller, to study the involvement of protein FXYD1 in the control of intracellular sodium levels.
Ms Kirsty Farquharson (Medicine, Dundee University) undertook an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Jenni Harvey, to study the effects of oestrogen on a cellular process pivotal in learning and memory.

Awards in 2006-07

£74,715 to Dr Jenni Harvey (Neurosciences Institute, University of Dundee) for a two-year investigation of whether age-related decline in cognitive function is assocated with altered neuronal responsiveness to leptin.
Leptin regulates food intake and body weight and is also involved in the processes underlying learning and memory. Food intake is linked to age-related cognitive decline; over-eating increasing the risk. The levels of brain leptin receptors reduce with age and this research will investigate whether age-related decline in cognitive performance and brain leptin function are linked.

[Link to information about awards made prior to 2001]