Dr Gregory Williams and Prof Bob Lahue from Galway Neuroscience Centre have led an international study on Huntington’s disease that was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes serious cognitive, psychological and movement symptoms. HD normally affects adults and lasts approximately 15 years until premature fatality.
Postdoctoral fellow Dr Gregory Williams and principal investigator Prof Bob Lahue studied how a protein called MutSb makes HD worse. “Recent research in HD shows that highly-active MutSb causes HD to occur earlier in life and to accelerate patient decline once the disease begins. We wanted to know if there is a way to deactivate MutSb and thereby possibly slow the genetic changes that occur in HD.”
Using cell experiments, Williams showed that blocking an enzyme called HDAC3 prevents activation of MutSb. The publication went on to show how this process works. Valuable contributions from collaborators in the UK and USA added key information to complete the study.
Lahue comments that experimental drugs in preclinical studies showed that inhibiting HDAC3 provided multiple benefits. “The drugs are still experimental and require further testing before clinical trials can be considered. However, we are now one step closer to that goal.”
The Galway Neuroscience Centre are pleased to welcome two new academic members to the Centre, Dr Robert Munn and Dr Lieve Desbonnet. Both Rob and Lieve have joined the Discipline of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, and we wish them well with their new roles!
Dr Robert Munn
Rob Munn joins the Discipline of Pharmacology from California. Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Rob did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand with Professors Neil McNaughton and David Bilkey. Rob then moved to Stanford University in the San Francisco bay area in 2013 to do postdoc work with Assoc. Prof. Lisa Giocomo.
Rob is an in vivo behavioural electrophysiologist, with a side-interest in in vivo Calcium imaging. He studies learning and memory in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortices and is currently working with a Down syndrome mouse model.
Dr Lieve Desbonnet
Lieve Desbonnet is from Galway and is currently a lecturer in the department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in NUIG. Before this she worked as a lecturer in Neuroscience in the University of Glasgow for four years, and received her PhD in Neuroscience from University College Cork in 2007, after completing a BSc in Anatomy, and an MSc in Neuropharmacology in NUIG.
Lieve’s research focusses on investigating the long-term effects of adverse environmental events in early life, stress, immune activation, and alterations in gut microbiota, on brain development and behaviour. In her early career she spent a year as a Marie Curie fellow in Maastricht University in 2003. Following her PhD, she continued her research work in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) developing gene-environment models for schizophrenia, and a further 2 years as a senior postdoctoral researcher focussing on the role of the gut microbiota in neurodevelopment and behaviour. Currently she works as part of the iRELATE project that examines the role of the immune system in cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.
Congratulations to PhD student, Fiona Martyn, from Dr Dara Cannon’s research team who won the “ECNP’s Got Talent” contest at the 33rd European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference which was held online from 12-15th September.
You can read Fiona’s full report on the event, and her fantastic win, here.
Fiona began her PhD in NUI Galway’s Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory in September 2018. Her PhD research uses in vivo neuroimaging techniques to investigate the relationship between alterations in the structure and function of the brain, and moderate and binge alcohol use in bipolar disorder.
Fiona has a BSc Psychology with Neuropsychology from Bangor University, North Wales. She has previously worked as a Youth Outreach Alcohol and Other Drugs counsellor in Melbourne, Australia, and as a Drug Diversion Alcohol and Other Drugs Counsellor in rural Australia.
There was exciting news for the Galway Neuroscience Centre and Neuroscience Ireland this week with the announcement, on Twitter here, that three Irish neuroscientists have been elected to roles within the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS).
Eilís Dowd from the Galway Neuroscience Centre, who is Immediate Past President of Neuroscience Ireland, has been elected to Chair the FENS Communications Committee and she will also join the FENS Executive Committee.
Áine Kelly from Trinity College Dublin, who is the current President of Neuroscience Ireland, was elected to the Higher Education & Training Committee, and Richard Roche from Maynooth University, also a Past President of Neuroscience Ireland, was elected to the Communications Committee.
Congratulations to Eilís, Áine and Richard from all at GNC!
FENS, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, have launched a Guide to Twitter for FENS member societies and FENS members. The guide was launched at the FENS2020 Virtual Forum during a Special Event on Twitter hosted by Dervila Glynn from Cambridge Neuroscience who is Chair of the FENS Communications Committee.
The guide, drawn by Debbie Roberts from Engage Visually, can be downloaded in high resolution by clicking on the image above or by clicking here.
The FENS Special Event “Using Twitter to Communicate in your Science Life” had a distinctly Galway Neuroscience flavour – Dervila herself is a graduate of NUI Galway; one of the panellists was John Cryan from University College Cork, also a NUI Galway graduate; and the Twitter guide was developed with help from Eilis Dowd from the Galway Neuroscience Centre, who will be taking over the role of Chair of the FENS Communications Committee after FENS2020.
The short film, “Mood Atlas” has won Best Medical Documentary at the Sci-On Film Festival in Reno, Nevada.
Mood Atlas describes the experiences of Shane Hickey, who is living with Bipolar Disorder, and the research that is underway in the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory at NUI Galway to map Shane’s brain and emotions, to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.
Mood Atlas was directed by multiple award-winning director, Mia Mullarkey of Ishka Films, and was funded by the Irish Health Research Board, through a Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Grant, awarded to the former Director of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, Dr Dara Cannon.
The Sci-On Film Festival is the “Biggest Little Science + Fiction Film Festival in the World.” Their goal is to bring science fiction and science fact short films to audiences around the world – and to recognize, reward and showcase creativity, ingenuity and science-based imagination.
Congratulations to Shane, Dara, Mia and all involved in this wonderful film!