Dr Soyon Hong and Professor Kenneth Harris receive Eisai/UK DRI postdoctoral research award
10 February 2022
We're delighted to announce that Dr Soyon Hong (UK DRI at UCL) and Prof Kenneth Harris (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology) are recipients of the Eisai / UK DRI postdoctoral research awards from the latest selection round.
The UK DRI and Eisai are excited to announce the recipients of the Eisai / UK DRI postdoctoral research awards from the latest selection round. These awards allow postdoctoral scientists to collaborate on projects with Eisai, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies. The projects from previous rounds are underway and are already benefitting from the expertise of this industrial partner.
In this third round, the joint UK DRI and Eisai committee selected two projects for their potential to advance the understanding of the biology of neurodegeneration and provide opportunities to develop novel therapeutics. The successful projects were proposed by Group Leaders Prof Philip Taylor (UK DRI at Cardiff) and Dr Soyon Hong (UK DRI at UCL) with Prof Kenneth Harris at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology. Each research award provides funding to allow a postdoctoral scientist to undertake the project for three years.
Spatial profiling of microglia associated with synaptic degeneration in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s brains
Dr Soyon Hong (UK DRI at UCL) and Prof Kenneth Harris (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology)
It is becoming increasingly apparent that immune cells involved in neuronal homeostasis, also have a role to play in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. However, the details are not yet clear due to the variety of cell states that can be adopted by immune cells, particularly microglia and border-associated macrophages (BAMs). Some of these states can damage neurons and the brain environment influences states that are adopted. A detailed understanding of these different cell states is required to determine how microglia and BAMs are involved in neurodegeneration.
Dr Soyon Hong and Prof Kenneth Harris are generating a spatial atlas of different functional clusters of microglia and BAMs in the nervous system during Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, using state-of-the-art optical methods to visually identify differences in gene expression. The project has the potential to highlight novel targets for future biomarker and therapeutic studies.
When asked about her motivation for applying for the award, Dr Hong said:
“Given our exciting preliminary data, we decided to apply for Eisai / UK DRI postdoctoral research awards, because it would provide a remarkable opportunity to collaborate with Eisai. We will surely benefit from active engagement and discussion of data as discoveries are being made. Successful identification of microglial cell states in the Alzheimer's disease tissues using our in-situ sequencing paradigm, coupled with a clear understanding of the cell states’ functional implications, will likely lead to new avenues to assess, and hopefully target, specific functions of microglia/BAMs in Alzheimer's disease.”