Scots researcher given “incredible” award for Parkinson’s research


A SCOTS professor has been awarded a prize for his research on Parkinson’s Disease.

Dario Alessi was recently awarded the?Robert A. Pritzker Prize for his Leadership in Parkinson’s Research by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).

Professor Dario Alessi and Shalini Padmanabhan.
Professor Dario Alessi and Shalini Padmanabhan. (C) University of Dundee.

The University of Dundee professor was recognised for his exceptional research contributions to the disease and has additionally received an incredible £200,000 grant towards research.

Professor Alessi has a distinguished history as a global leader in the study of kinases, a class of cellular proteins that includes LRRK2 – the most frequent cause of inherited Parkinson’s.

He first earned his Bachelor’s and PhD degrees from the University of Birmingham and carried out postdoctoral work at the MRC-PPU at Dundee.

He has been a group leader in the MRC-PPU since 1997 and was appointed its director in 2012.

He was later elected as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in 2005 and as Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2002), the Royal Society (2008) and of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2012).

Throughout his career, Professor Alessi has been honoured with multiple awards, including the EMBO Gold Medal (2005) and the Francis Crick Prize of the Royal Society (2006).

More recently, he was named as the winner of the prestigious Jeantet-Collen Prize for Translational Medicine and was awarded an OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours list.

In addition to running a lab focused on kinase research, he also directs the Dundee Signal Transduction Therapy Unit, a collaboration between leading researchers in the University’s School of Life Sciences and some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.

He also leads an international research network team that explores the biology underlying genetic mutations in Parkinson’s disease.

Speaking on the award Professor Alessi said: “It is an incredible honour to receive the Pritzker Prize.

“Having this award funding will be transformational to furthering our progress on Parkinson’s research and moving us closer to finding treatments that cure the disease.

“It also helps us achieve a key goal in the lab: giving students and other researchers fantastic opportunities to learn about research and become leading experts in this field.”

Noting Professor Alessi’s work, Shalini Padmanabhan, MJFF’s Vice-President, Discovery and Translational Research, said: “Dr. Alessi has trailblazed areas of science that are key to our understanding of the genetics of Parkinson’s disease.

“This work provided a greater understanding of LRRK2 that is being leveraged in ongoing and future trials of therapies to inhibit LRRK2 and hopefully slow the progression of the disease.”

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