Glasgow based researcher a rising star after being first in family to go to university


By Ed Pinches | Tuesday 23 March 2021

Today (Tuesday 23 March) Alzheimer’s Research UK has awarded Dr Sophie Bradley from the University of Glasgow the prestigious David Hague Early Career Investigator of the Year Award.

The £25,000 prize in research expenses, with an additional £1,500 personal prize will be split with fellow dementia researcher, Prof Renzo Mancuso from the VIB-UAntwerp Center in Belgium.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a catastrophic impact on people with dementia, a condition that affects nearly one million people in the UK.  It is caused by several diseases, the most common being Alzheimer’s.

With no treatments that slow down or halt these diseases, the need for dementia research has never been greater. Yet dementia research has not been immune to the financial impact of the pandemic.

A recent survey by Alzheimer’s Research UK, showed that funding opportunities for UK dementia researchers have been reduced and a third of dementia scientists are considering leaving research altogether. With researchers in the early stages of their careers particularly affected by this funding squeeze, there are fears that the field could lose a generation of scientists whose work is vital to the search for new treatments.

As the UK’s largest dementia research charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK has a proud history of supporting early career researchers. The David Hague Early Career Investigator of the Year Award is awarded to the most outstanding early career researcher in the field of biomedical dementia research. Previous winners include researchers, Prof Katie Lunnon, Prof Selina Wray (University College London) and Dr Shane Liddelow (NYU Langone in New York City) all of whom have gone on to become leaders in their field.

Dr Bradley, from the University of Glasgow, was the first person from her family to go to university. She decided to stay local to her hometown and completed her undergraduate degree and study for her PhD at the University of Leicester.  Her research brought her to Scotland investigating a group of proteins known as G-protein coupled receptors that could be used to target potential new drugs in the nervous system.

The award is recognition for her work early in her career not only in the lab but her commitment to communicating research to the public.

Dr Sophie Bradley, from Glasgow University said:
“It’s a pleasure to be recognised in this way for my work. I’ve had fantastic support from my colleagues and funders and it’s great that there is an award like this for early career researchers who have to put in a great deal of work to establish themselves in a scientific career.

“Working on early-stage research or what has classically been described as basic science is not often rewarded. But my work now helps lay the groundwork for future potential successes. I am excited to be able to present my findings at the Alzheimer’s Research UK conference, which, due to the ongoing pandemic has had to go virtual this year.”

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We are delighted we can continue to support outstanding early career researchers in a tough year for many in the field. Where possible we have pivoted our events online and are pleased to welcome Dr Bradley to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s virtual research conference to present her findings.

“Dr Bradley is rapidly becoming an important figure in the neuroscience and dementia community. Her work brings a fresh perspective into the field having not had a new drug for dementia in almost 20 years. We must continue to back early career researchers if we are to re-ignite dementia research and deliver breakthroughs for all 70,000 people in Scotland living with dementia. In the search for the first life-changing dementia treatment, we don’t have a moment to waste.”


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Ed Pinches