Research Projects

Using stem cells to study the recycling system in the brain.

Awarded to:
Dr Natalie Connor-Robson

Current award:

Cardiff University

1 January 2021 - 31 December 2023

Full project name:

Identifying Disease Mechanisms Caused by Endocytic Genes in Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease






In most cases Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a complex mix of age, lifestyle, and genetics.

Scientists have discovered over 20 risk genes that are associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. These risk genes can provide researchers with vital clues as to what biological processes may go wrong in the diseases that cause dementia.

Some of the risk genes that have been connected to Alzheimer’s disease make proteins that are involved in a process within brain cells, known as endocytosis.

Endocytosis is the recycling process within cells and is vital for the normal function of many cells in the brain, including nerve cells and microglia (a key immune cell in the brain).

Dr Natalie Connor-Robson will use cutting edge stem cell technology to unpick how these Alzheimer’s risk genes change the behaviour of nerve cells and microglia. She will also investigate how the changes in these genes affect how these cells respond to amyloid, a hallmark protein of Alzheimer’s disease.

By better understanding how these risk genes impact brain cells, both in normal conditions and during Alzheimer’s disease, researchers may be able to identify new drug targets.

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Dementia is one of the world’s greatest challenges. It steals lives and leaves millions heartbroken. But we can change the future.