The UK’s leading scientific academy – the Royal Society – has announced that Professor Sheena Radford is to receive one of its most prestigious research awards.
The Research Professorship will enable Professor Radford, Director of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, to develop new techniques to “see the unseen” and reveal the way that proteins interact to shape or to destroy memories.
The study will focus on one of the big unanswered questions in biology: the role that a protein structure called amyloid plays in both building memories that can last for decades – but also in the devastating memory loss experienced by people with neurodegenerative diseases.
To conduct the research, Professor Radford and her team will first have to develop new experimental techniques to allow scientists to visualise the processes where proteins come together with each other and interact with other components within a cell.
Her work will lay the foundation for one of the first research hubs in the world, to be based at the University, that will map protein interactions, allowing scientists to understand those interactions which are necessary for healthy life and those that cause disease. Incorrect interactions are known to be crucial factors in diseases spanning cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.