The annual OXION symposium on Membrane Transport proteins (ion channels and transporters), an inter-departmental consortium of PhD students, has been running for the last 17 years. OXION, The Integrative Physiology Initiative in Ion Channels and Diseases of Electrically Excitable Cells, was one of three awards made by the Wellcome Trust in 2002 to promote integrative physiology. The programme is led by our department's GlaxoSmithKline Royal Society Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft FRS.
This year, KC Park from the Swietach and Smart Groups has been awarded the poster prize for his work entitled “Propionate anions accumulated in propionic acidaemia results in sustained remodelling of cardiac epigenetics and excitation-contraction coupling”.
Propionate is a naturally-produced metabolite which accumulates to toxic levels in propionic acidaemia (PA), a fatal inborn error of metabolism. A characteristic feature of PA is the development of cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias, but the mechanism is unknown. Data from KC and his team suggests that propionate induces cardiac dysfunction by acting as an epigenetic modifier of key genes involved in excitation-contraction coupling, the process by which the heartbeat is triggered, which undergoes remodelling in numerous diseases.
His poster prize of £125 is sponsored by Autifony Therapeutics.
More information about KC and his research can be found here.