Dr Liam Keegan

MRC Human Genetics Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh  

The purpose of this studentship is to train a young scientist to carry out research on motor neurone disease. The research project is such that the student will learn a wide range of neurobiology and genetics so as to make the best use of animal models in future research.

The project aims to study the process of RNA editing that regulates the properties of glutamate receptors in motor neurones. It has long been believed that glutamate receptors are involved in the death of motor neurones in motor neurone disease. The student is studying the regulation of RNA editing in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to take advantage of the range of tools for neurobiology and genetic manipulation available in this organism.

Use of Drosophila as a model system has accelerated research on neurodegenerative diseases in recent years. With a better understanding of RNA editing we hope to be able to target development of drugs to protect motor neurons against death caused by undue excitation of glutamate receptors.