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Sarah Franks

DPhil Student

I completed my first class with honours BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Leeds in 2021, which included an industrial placement year where I worked as an Undergraduate Industrial Placement Student in Neuroscience R&D at AstraZeneca in Cambridge. It was during this experience where I first became interested in using stem cell derived neuronal models, high content imaging and high throughput screening technologies to interrogate the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease and explore novel therapeutic drug targets. Following from my degree I joined the Wade-Martins group as a research assistant from 2021 to 2023, in a collaborative project with the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ODDI) and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) to explore novel therapeutic drug targets for Parkinson’s disease modulating mitophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction in iPSC derived dopaminergic neurons. Presently, I am working in the Wade-Martins group pursuing my DPhil supported by the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust from Somerville College. The majority of PD cases are sporadic, with meta-analysis now revealing numerous PD GWA-risk variants which present an avenue for innovative PD mechanistic studies into these less characterised genetic factors. My research is focussed in exploring these PD GWA-risk genes in a CRISPRi-based screen. By correlating subcellular morphological phenotypes measured from multi-parametric high content imaging with post-translational proteomic modifications, I aim to unmask novel pathways and interactions through data mining.