UCL Division of Biosciences


NPP Wellcome Trust Research Grants

22 September 2021

NPP group leaders have recently received three separate Wellcome Trust grants totalling £4.4 million.

The awards made this year will fund research focussing on brain energy metabolism studied at the molecular, organelle, cellular and circuit level, and the links between gut and brain function which control appetite and bodyweight.


Understanding regulation of brain energy metabolism

Alexander Gourine, Professor in the Research Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, and co-founder of the Centre for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Neuroscience, has been awarded an Investigator Award in Science for £1.3m. The five-year project aims to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying control of brain energy metabolism in health and disease. The project focuses on mechanisms controlling transfer of energy substrates and waste products of metabolism between brain cells. 

Find out more:


Functional mapping of gut-brain neurocircuitry in health and obesity

Dan Brierley has been awarded a prestigious £1.25m Sir Henry Dale Fellowship to establish a new research group in NPP. His five year project will study how neuronal and hormonal signals from the gut are integrated in the brainstem to regulate appetite, and how chronic consumption of a Western diet causes these processes to become dysfunctional in the context of obesity. These fellowships are awarded to a maximum of ~£1.2m, and less than 40 are awarded annually across the full remit of WT-funded research. Dan will become the 4th SHD fellow in NPP, highlighting the department’s success with this scheme. The grant was awarded in August to open his lab in January. 

Find out more:


Mitochondrial Dynamics in Central Nervous System health and Disease

NPP's Professor Josef Kittler has been awarded a £1.9m Investigator Award in Science. This five year grant aims to study key properties of mitochondria, the tiny power stations within cells that generate much of the energy required for neurons to communicate with each other at synapses. The project aims to better understand how mitochondria are moved around cells and how they go on to regulate neuronal communication when they arrive at their destination. The project will also study how disrupted mitochondrial dynamics and function can lead to neuronal pathology which may be relevant to understanding neurodegenerative brain disorders.