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Personal profile

Biography

2003 - Present

Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow,

National Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) Research & Surveillance Unit (NCJDSRU),

Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS),

University of Edinburgh

2000 - 2003

Postdoctoral Research Associate, MRC Brain Metabolism Unit, University of Edinburgh

Specialising in protein-protein interactions of 14-3-3.

QUALIFICATIONS

1996 - 1999

Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Glasgow

Specialising in Cellular Signalling and Signal Transduction:

Intracellular target and regulation of PDE4 cyclic AMP-specific phosphodiesterase enzymes

1993 - 1996

B.Sc., Biochemistry, (Hons) 2(i), Imperial College, London

Final year subjects included Neurochemistry and the Molecular Basis of Infection

SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE     

Public Health Surveillance, Infectious diseases, Neuroscience, Neurodegenerative diseases, Prion diseases in humans and animals (e.g. CJD, variant CJD, BSE), Molecular Pathology, Biochemistry, Assay development (diagnostics and research).

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

Public health surveillance

Established a protocol for ‘enhanced’ surveillance of CJD, focussed on the population aged over 65, using state-of-the-art biochemical tests for the analysis of autopsy tissues.

Research Impact      

Enabled technology transfer from a US research group, for the ultra-sensitive detection of prions by RT-QuIC. Now established as a crucial ante-mortem test for CJD in the UK.

Provided a more detailed biochemical characterisation of rare forms of human prion disease.

Public health impact

Detected and reported first cases of variant CJD (vCJD) infection following transfusion with vCJD-implicated blood, and blood products, in patients with a genotype (at codon 129 of the prion protein gene, PRNP) thought to confer resistance.

Contributed to a study showing evidence that patients acquired an Alzheimer’s disease pathology following treatment with human growth hormone.

Collaboration and test development

Established successful collaborations with researchers in Switzerland, USA and Germany, on novel methods for detecting disease-associated prion protein in human peripheral tissues and blood.

RESEARCH GOVERNANCE AND ORGANISATION

Expertise

Experienced in a broad range of laboratory methods e.g. cell culture, ELISA, western blotting, ultracentrifugation, specialist techniques for ultra-high sensitive detection of infectious prions, in vitro protein aggregation assays, (PMCA and RT-QuIC), recombinant protein purification, molecular biology.

Health and Safety

Experienced at research involving Containment Level 3 pathogens, in strict accordance with health and safety regulations.

Devise, write and review standard operating procedures and risk assessments for work at Containment Level 3.

Research ethics and regulation

Up-to-date with CPD courses in:

Good Clinical Practice (Laboratory Research) and Health and Safety Management,
Ethics of Research with Human Tissues, GDPR, Patient Confidentiality.

TEAMWORK AND SUPERVISION

Close work with colleagues to run and maintain a Containment Level 3 lab, analyse samples to tight deadlines, and produce research publications.

Successfully managed a research technician, to achieve high quality biochemical analyses of multiple tissue samples, to tight timescales.

Student supervision  

Assistant PhD Supervisor (2016 – present).

Supervised five final-year honours students and one summer student (2006 – 2014).

COMMUNICATION

Deliver talks and present work at internationalconferences (most recently at the British Neuropathological Society in 2017).

Regularly produce reports to tight timescales, including the collation and statistical analysis of data from multiple assays, for senior clinical and epidemiological staff.

Frequently write and edit research papers and reviews, and proof-read PhD theses.

TEACHING

Undergraduate teaching

Lecturer on Prion Diseases for:

Molecular Biology of Disease Course (2007 – present) (run by Professor Kevin Hardwick)
Medical Biology Core Honours Course (2009 – present) (run by Dr Sutherland McIver and Dr Rory Mitchell).

Course tutor and marker for second year medical student selected course SSC2 (2017)

Undergraduate assessment

Set and mark undergraduate examination questions for the MBD course.

DATA ANALYSIS, IT AND CODING SKILLS

Built Python code to extract and analyse data from multiple Excel files and perform statistical analyses (see github.com/apeden).

Experienced in using MS Access/relational databases/SQL for building, appending, updating and querying databases.

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