Awards announcement: Introducing our 2023 Proleptic Post-doctoral Fellows

This Fellowship scheme supports post-doctoral researchers as they transition to a permanent position within academia. For this pilot scheme, Departments/Centres/Institutes which are holders of our 2020 and 2022 Multiple PhD Studentship awards were invited to nominate candidates to apply. These were researchers that already demonstrated both excellence and a capacity for independent work, as well as being considered future leaders in ageing-related research. Following the nomination and application process which took place in 2022/23, we would like to welcome our recently appointed Proleptic Post-doctoral Fellows – Dr Arlene Casey and Dr Kerri Kinghorn.

Based at the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Care Research Centre, Arlene’s research will focus on developing computerised approaches to reliably remove personal information from the free-text notes made by doctors and nurses. Information from free-text notes is likely to be particularly useful when trying to predict outcomes in older people for whom existing prediction tools often perform badly. Therefore, another element of the Fellowship is to develop new prediction tools for older people, and to carefully examine how well they perform in practice. You can read about a related collaborative workshop hosted by Arlene focused on ageing data here.

Kerri’s lab at University College London’s Institute of Healthy Ageing seeks to understand the underlying pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. To investigate this, Kerri’s lab uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster and cellular models of disease. Her Fellowship will study the changes that occur to lipids in the gut, brain and fat tissues with age. Furthermore, changes to the lipid profile in these tissues will be introduced artificially using a variety of approaches including genetic modification, drug treatment, and manipulation of diet to study their effects on the flies health and longevity. You can read more about Kerri’s work here.

For this pilot scheme, all eligible applications underwent external peer review. The applications and peer reviews were then assessed by a Panel comprising members of the Trust’s Research Grants Committee listed below. Following this, applicants were shortlisted and provided with feedback whether or not they were invited to interview by this Panel:

  • Professor Bernard Conway (Chair of the Panel, Trustee and then Chair of the Research Grants Committee)
  • Professor Andrew Devitt (Aston University)
  • Professor Stuart Gray (University of Glasgow)
  • Professor Carmel Hughes (Queen’s University Belfast, Trustee and then Vice-Chair of the Research Grants Committee)
  • Dr Nicholas Rattray (University of Strathclyde)

Interviewees were also provided with further feedback following their interviews. We wanted to say thank you to those who applied, as we do appreciate the time and effort that goes in to making an application. We also appreciate the large amount of time and effort that goes into assessing grant proposals, and we wouldn’t be able to keep funding high-quality research without the help of reviewers, panellists, and committee members. We’d therefore like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to the assessment of these proposals.

6 applications were received with 2 awards being made (equating to a success rate of 33%). The latest round of the scheme is now open, and more information can be found on our ‘Apply for funding’ page.