Motor Neurone Disease Association
Posted: 26th March 2020

Kent student Sam Bryce-Smith has been awarded a prestigious PhD Studentship by the Motor Neurone Disease Association. This PhD studentship aims to nurture young researchers who wish to pursue a career in MND research.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation PhD Studentship

‘The Masonic Charitable Foundation PhD Studentship’ has been fully funded by a grant from the MCF and will be based at University College London (UCL).

Sam has always been fascinated by nature and how the body works. This led to Sam studying further sciences at school and eventually graduating with a First Class Honours degree in Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield.

Sam will start the PhD studentship on Monday 2 December under the joint supervision of Dr Pietro Fratta and Dr Maria Secrier.

London Freemason Adrian Fox, visits UCL

Investigating the early stages of motor neurone disease

Sam’s project will explore two proteins (TDP-43 and FUS) that are associated with MND and are involved in processing molecules called messenger RNA (the molecule that provides the information for the DNA to make the protein). Sam will see if disrupting the processing of messenger RNA also affects other genes and whether these changes contribute to the early stages of MND.

This will hopefully improve our understanding of how the disease develops, which in turn may provide new targets to develop treatments that can stop MND in its tracks.

Making a positive impact on people’s lives

Sam said: “The chance to contribute to our understanding of the disease and provide opportunities for new potential treatments is something that really excites me. However, the chance to have a positive impact on people’s lives through my studies is what really drives me and I feel this studentship is a fantastic opportunity to do so.”

Developing the MND research leaders of the future

David Innes, Chief Executive of the MCF, said: “I offer Sam my warmest congratulations on winning this very prestigious PhD Studentship. Progress in his research could one day lead to a major breakthrough in stopping this terrible disease.”

Linda Allen, Director of Fundraising at the MND Association said: “Support like this from The Masonic Charitable Foundation means we can provide the opportunity for young researchers to work under the tutorship of leaders in the field of MND and help us to develop the MND research leaders of the future. Together we will make a difference to those living with and affected by this devastating disease.”

Medical research

Freemasons are supporting medical research into degenerative diseases through grants to fund PhDs.

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