I graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Science with Pharmacology from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2019. During my undergraduate degree, I carried out research in Dr Una FitzGerald's lab looking at the effect of DOPAL on the viability and bioenergetic function of astrocytes. I also was awarded a studentship to study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and an Amgen Scholarship to conduct research with Dr Heike Laman at the University of Cambridge. In October 2019, I joined the Wellcome Trust Four Year Doctoral programme in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. In the MSc year of this programme, I completed rotation projects in the laboratories of Prof. Richard Wade-Martins and Prof. Colin Akerman.
Mutations in the GBA gene are the most common genetic risk factor for Parkinson's disease (PD). Despite this, we still don't fully understand how GBA mutations give rise to PD and progress is limited by the lack of relevant animal models of GBA-associated PD. The Wade-Martins lab has recently developed bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-transgenic mouse models of GBA-associated PD. These mice express either the GBA-L444P mutant or wild-type GBA, from the human GBA genomic locus. My project will use biochemical, electrophysiological and behavioural techniques to investigate how disease in these mice progresses with age. I will also investigate pathology in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived dopaminergic neurons carrying the GBA-L444P mutation. This will allow the translation of pathological findings observed in the mice into human neurons.