Two University of Dundee scientists have been awarded prestigious fellowships worth more than £1 million each to fund their research over the next five years. Dr Greg Findlay and Dr David Murray received Sir Henry Dale Fellowships that will enable them to develop the work and profile of their laboratories. Two postdoctoral positions will also be created at Dundee’s School of Life Sciences as a result of the award.
Dr Findlay, a group leader in the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, will use the funding to study a newly discovered control mechanism for Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) development that could help in the treatment of heart disease in the future. “A major challenge in the stem cell field is to understand how stem cells become a specialised cell such as a heart cell, and how instructions are sent and controlled for this happen,” explained Dr Findlay. “My lab recently discovered a new molecular signal which instructs ESCs to remain pluripotent, meaning that they can form all cell types, tissues and organs in the adult body rather than becoming specialised cell types such as heart tissue.
“This generous fellowship award will allow us to study this process in greater depth, and use this knowledge to improve laboratory-based approaches to develop heart tissue from ESCs for cell replacement therapy and further research.”
Dr Murray, who recently joined the University from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany, examines how cells develop the distinct structures that enable specialisation with the hope of providing new knowledge in relation to cancer and tissue development. He said, “We are grateful for the generous award from the Wellcome Trust. Our studies will provide an understanding of a machinery involved in cell and tissue organisation. The insights we will make will provide a foundation to explain the regulation of cellular structures.
“The team supported in part by this award has the potential to enable new approaches in targeting human diseases such as cancer. Moreover, the award greatly strengthens research at the interface of membranes and proteins within the School of Life Sciences, and opens the possibility for interdisciplinary collaboration across University departments.”
The Sir Henry Dale Fellowships scheme is a partnership between the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust. Fellowships are open to early-career scientists ready to lead their own independent research programme who have already made important contributions to their area of speciality.