University of Dundee

Miratul Muqit awarded £1.9 million to combat Parkinson’s disease

16 Jul 2013

Miratul Muqit of the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) at the University of Dundee has been awarded almost £1.9 million from the Wellcome Trust to investigate the causes of Parkinson’s disease.

The Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science will allow Dr Muqit to undertake research over the next 5 years that may lead to new ideas on how to diagnose and treat the disorder. Parkinson’s is an increasingly common disorder that leads to progressive brain degeneration.

Dr Muqit, Programme Leader at the MRC Unit and Consultant Neurologist at Ninewells Hospital, said, “Coming up with treatments for Parkinson’s has been a major challenge largely due to a lack of understanding on the causes of the disease. Recent genetic breakthroughs have now given us a roadmap on where to start to unravel the disease.”

He will investigate the role of two genes, PINK1 and Parkin, which are mutated in patients with inherited forms of Parkinson’s. These genes act together to remove damaged proteins from cells and this forms an important defense mechanism for the brain.

Dr Muqit added, “This funding boost from the Wellcome Trust is really a reflection of the many talented people in my lab as well as the outstanding research environment and resources of the MRC Unit. I am extremely grateful to the Wellcome Trust for their on-going funding of my work. We have entered a really exciting phase of our research and over the next few years we hope to have a much better understanding of how PINK1 and Parkin mutations lead to Parkinson’s and to discover drug targets that could one day become effective treatments for the condition.”

Professor Dario Alessi, Director of the MRC Unit, added, “I am delighted that Miratul has been able to secure this highly sought after fellowship to pursue his valuable research into better understanding the molecular causes of Parkinson’s. Miratul is on the cusp of making some tremendous breakthroughs in the area of PINK1 and Parkin biology that could lead to new ideas about how to better treat and diagnose Parkinson’s in the future. Miratul is currently the only Clinician in Scotland to hold a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science. The University of Dundee MRC Unit is privileged to be able to host Miratul’s research laboratory.”

Dr Muqit’s award follows the news last month that the Medical Research Council has awarded the MRC-PPU £24 million to continue its work over the next five years. The funding will the unit to expand and recruit a number of new researchers to Dundee. It will also allow the integration into the MRC-PPU of the Scottish Institute of Cell Signalling, which was established at Dundee in 2008 following support of £10 million from the Scottish Government.

The MRC-PPU already supports 162 staff from 25 countries.