Brain Sciences


Professor Rickie Patani awarded prestigious Lister Prize for 2021

5 July 2021

Professor Rickie Patani, from UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology (IoN) and The Francis Crick Institute, has received a Lister Institute Research Prize Fellowship for his research on diseases of the nervous system.

Rickie Patani

The £250,000 prize aims to support the excellent work of early-career biomedical scientists and the future potential of their cutting-edge research.

Professor Patani, who runs a research lab at the Francis Crick Institute, is Professor of Human Stem Cells and Regenerative Neurology the IoN and is a consultant neurologist at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH.

His academic research on diseases of the nervous system focuses on motor neuron disease (MND) and uses stem cells generated from real patients to better understand the disease and seek potential therapies.

On winning the award, Professor Patani said: “I’m deeply honoured and delighted to be awarded the Lister Prize which generously provides £250,000 of flexible funding to allow my group to develop new tools to study the departure from homeostasis observed in MND cell types in far greater resolution and with completely unbiased approaches.”

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron disease, which is rapidly progressive, invariably fatal and devastating. It remains untreatable because we do not understand the underlying disease mechanisms.  

In order to address this Professor Patani’s laboratory uses patient-derived stem cells, which they can efficiently transform into motor neurons. This approach allows his team to precisely determine the sequence of (already established) pathogenic events occurring in ALS.

“The hope is that this will provide critical insights into the causes of ALS and help us to identify priority candidates to therapeutically target in order to slow, stop or potentially even reverse the progression of this devastating disease.”

It is against this background of developing a comprehensively validated human stem cell model of ALS, using it to discover new ALS hallmarks and mechanisms together with a vision for how to advance this biology that the Lister Prize was awarded to Professor Patani.

Professor Patani said: “The more we understand about human neurological diseases using this approach, the more we will be able to therapeutically target underlying disease mechanisms. We ultimately wish to use this new information to benefit patients with untreatable neurological diseases.”