School of Veterinary Medicine
View my LinkedIn profile here
Research title: Identification of potential serum biomarkers of canine degenerative myelopathy (CDM) and characterisation of potential pathological mechanisms associated with mutant SOD1 toxicity
I studied Veterinary Biosciences (MSci) at the University of Glasgow, during which I developed an interest in neuroscience. I participated in a short project with Dr Mark McLaughlin investigating proteins involved in the myelin disorder Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD). I did my Masters placement at the Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh, with Dr Francesca Chianini and looked at the pathology caused by various strains of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in murine tissues. For my final year project, I analysed cloacal bacteria of wild birds. After graduating in 2018, I pursued a career in the neurodegenerative disease field and started working on a PhD which aims to better understand the pathological mechanisms involved in the development of the neurodegenerative disease, canine degenerative myelopathy (DM).
The clinical signs of DM are not disease specific and can include hindlimb weakness and eventually paralysis in adult dogs. The cause is not clear but mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 (Sod1) gene are thought to be involved and may lead to misfolding of the protein product SOD1. DM also shares several genetic, clinical and histological similarities with some forms of human Motor Neurone Disease (MND), meaning it could be a naturally occurring large animal model of the disease.
We want to investigate what happens to cellular mechanisms of nervous system cells in DM and see if these influence the processing and folding of SOD1. We will use a multistranded approach to investigate the pathological mechanisms of DM which will include in vitro experiments using a DM cell culture model established in Dr McLaughlin’s laboratory. Using proteomic techniques, we will investigate SOD1 folding and cell activity to highlight areas of interest for further studies and identify potential biomarkers for DM.
I am a lab demonstrator at the Veterinary Medicine Undergraduate School and assist in a range of practical classes in the BVMS and Veterinary Bioscience programmes. My demonstrator profile can be found here.