University of Dundee

European Young Investigator award for Dundee Parkinson's researcher

20 Oct 2016

Dr Miratul Muqit, a leading researcher into the causes of Parkinson’s disease based at the University of Dundee, has been named as one of this year’s awardees of the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organisation Young Investigator Programme (EMBO YIP).


The EMBO YIP awards are among the most prestigious given to young researchers every year. EMBO go to great efforts to identify the brightest young Life Sciences researchers working in Europe, Israel, Turkey and Singapore and award them with an EMBO YIP Prize.


In addition to the prestige, the EMBO YIP Prize also provides awardees with significant academic, practical and financial support to help them realise their potential as future world-class researchers.


“I am absolutely delighted to be joining the EMBO YIP programme and interacting with researchers from all across Europe that will bring new ideas to enhance our research efforts,” said Dr Muqit, who is a Wellcome Trust Clinical Investigator in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU), part of the University’s School of Life Sciences.


Dr Muqit combines his cutting edge research into better understanding the causes of Parkinson’s disease with being a Consultant Neurologist at Ninewells Hospital treating patients with the disabling condition.


In 2004 he was a key member of the London-based team that discovered that mutations in a gene known as PINK1 can cause Parkinson’s. He has been based at the University of Dundee since 2008 where he has been working out the mechanism of how disruption of the PINK1 gene leads to Parkinson’s.


His work has led to several important breakthroughs in this field and revealed a remarkable process of how PINK1, together with another gene called Parkin, plays a crucial role in keeping cells healthy by ensuring that the energy-producing centres of cells, mitochondria, are rapidly broken down and removed when damaged.


Dr Muqit said, “I have benefitted from fantastic colleagues in Dundee whose contributions have helped us uncover the role of the PINK1 enzyme and provided a clear rationale into new strategies to better diagnose and treat Parkinson’s.


“This award is a reflection of the many talented scientists that have worked in my lab and also the outstanding research environment and world-class facilities at the MRC unit and School of Life Sciences.”


Professor Dario Alessi, Director of the MRC-PPU, said, “This is fantastic recognition for the groundbreaking work that Dr Muqit and his lab are undertaking to better understand biology so relevant to the causality of Parkinson’s disease.


“The work that Dr Muqit has performed identifying the mechanism by which PINK1 controls Parkin was totally unexpected and suggests new ideas of how improved therapies could be developed to better treat Parkinson’s in the future.


“The research that Dr Muqit has been able to undertake is even more remarkable given that he is also a Clinician and spends a significant amount of his time away from the laboratory bench, treating Parkinson’s patients. It is indeed very rare for clinicians to receive an EMBO-YIP award and Dr Muqit becomes the first Scottish-based clinician and one of only a handful of UK clinicians to have been acknowledged in this way.”