UCL Institute of Neurology



The Graham Watts Laboratories for Research into Motor Neuron Disease

Lab. Head: Professor Linda Greensmith

Summary of Research Interests


Our work is aimed at improving our understanding of the mechanisms involved in motoneuron death, with particular reference to the loss of motoneurons that occurs in motor neuron diseases such as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder in which motoneurons in the spinal cord and brain progressively die, resulting in muscle paralysis and death, usually within 2-5 years of diagnosis. There is currently no cure or treatment for this disease and so the development of an effective therapy remains an imperative

ALS is a multi-factorial disorder in which different pathological mechanisms play a role. In our group we have been investigating the contribution that some of these different mechanisms make to disease including the role of protein chaperones, axonal transport defects as well as mitochondrial deficits. We hope that a greater understanding of the causative factors involved in the death of motor neurons may help us to identify new therapeutic targets.

We use a multidisciplinary approach in our experiments, examining motor neurons both in animal models of motor neuron disease as well as in primary cell cultures of motor neurons, muscles and glial cells. We also use a wide range of techniques from cellular and molecular biology to whole animal systems physiology. This combination of techniques allows us to examine the molecular and cellular changes that take place within motor neurons in culture under different conditions, to examine the effects and mechanisms of action of potential neuroprotective agents, before moving on to test the validity of our findings in vivo using animal models of motor neuron disease. The overall aim of our research program is to help in the development of effective therapeutic strategies for use in the treatment of these fatal neurodegenerative disorders.

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Research Group:

Group Head:

Professor Linda Greensmith BSc. PhD

The Graham Watts Senior Research Fellow

Tel: 020 3448 4280

Email: l.greensmith{at}ucl.ac.uk

Current Group members:

James Dick BSc.

Lab Manager/Senior Research Technician

Tel: 020 3448 4218;

Email: James.Dick{at}.ucl.ac.uk

Postdoctoral Research Fellows :

Dr Bernadett Kalmar BSc. PhD Tel: 020 3448 4312; Email: b.kalmar{at}ucl.ac.uk

Dr Bilal Malik BSc. MSc. PhD Tel: 020 3448 4313 Email: b.malik{at}ucl.ac.uk

Dr Delphine Boerio PhD Email: boerio_delphine{at}yahoo.fr (co-supervised with Professor Hugh Bostock)

Dr Mhoriam Ahmed PhD Tel: 020 3448 4213; Email: mhoriam.ahmed{at}ucl.ac.uk

Dr Barney Bryson PhD Tel: 020 3448 4313; Email: barney.bryson{at}ucl.ac.uk

PhD Students:

Phil McGloldrick MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases PhD program    Tel: 020 7837 3448 4184; Email: p.mcgoldrick{at}.ucl.ac.uk

Anna Gray PhD student Tel: 020 3448 4184; Email: a.gray{at}ucl.ac.uk

Katherine Gibbs PhD student Email katherine.gibbs.11{at}ucl.ac.uk

Leonette Annan PhD student Tel:020 3448 4213; Email leonette.annan.11{at}ucl.ac.uk

Clinical Fellows:

Dr Ching-Hua Lu Clinical Research Fellow (Co-supervised with Dr Andrea Malaspina, Queen Mary University of London) Tel: 020 3448 4312;

Email: ching-hua.lu{at}ucl.ac.uk

Dr Pietro Fratta Clinical Research Fellow (Co-supervised with Prof Elizabeth Fisher) Tel: 020 7837 3448 4421; Email: p.fratta{at}prion.ucl.ac.uk

Dr Alex Rossor Clinical Research Fellow (Co-supervised with Prof Mary Reilly)  Tel: 020 7837 3448 4213 Email: alex.rossor{at}nhs.net

Current research funding

o The Brain Research Trust - The Graham Watts Bequest

o The Welcome Trust

o GlaxoSmithKline

o Clinical Research and Development Committee – NHNN

o Motor Neuron Disease Association

o Thierry Latran Foundation

o Medical Research Council

o Kennedy’s Disease Research Donation

o National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

o Arthritis Research Campaign