Researchers win funding to tackle health challenges

Two De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academics have been named among 54 ‘exceptional’ biomedical and health researchers who share in £6.6million funding grants.

Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar and Dr Carlo Breda have each been awarded nearly £125,000 in Springboard grants by the Academy of Medical Sciences, which aims to support early career researchers.

head shot of Carlo    Maitreyi Shivkumar

It is the first time that DMU researchers have won funding through the programme. The latest round of grants brings the total investment into the next generation of research leaders through Springboard to more than £36million since the programme began in 2015.

It helps researchers working across the full breadth of biomedical science, from molecular biology through to public health. Projects funded this year will advance understanding across a diverse range of areas including cancer, antimicrobial resistance, and mental health.

Dr Breda’s work will investigate the role of the gene RAB39B in Parkinson’s disease.  He hopes to learn more about the specific role of this gene in Parkinson's disease - ultimately, a discovery which could lead to better treatments or even ways of preventing the as-yet untreatable condition.

He said: “I am delighted to be awarded the Academy Springboard funding. This is a significant achievement for my career, my research and DMU considering how competitive these awards are. Thanks to this funding I will be able to continue to work on Parkinson’s disease.

“The findings of this research will not only contribute to advancing our knowledge of Parkinson’s disease but could potentially be translated to other neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, in the near future, to design therapeutic interventions.”

Microbiologist Dr Shivkumar plans to study ways of tackling coronaviruses such as Covid-19 and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which are a threat to global health. Her work will focus on the use of medicines called PROTACS, used to break down parts of cells that viruses need to spread, to see whether it can block coronaviruses.

She said: “I'm delighted to have been awarded the Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Award! The Covid-19 pandemic has really highlighted the need for rapid deployment of therapeutic interventions for infectious diseases, and this project will allow me to identify and develop new broad-spectrum antivirals against emerging viruses."

Professor Mike Kagioglou, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: "We are delighted to have been successful in getting funding through the Academy of Medical Sciences' prestigious Springboard scheme. As an empowering university, we're committed to supporting our staff to develop and enhance their research careers by investing in knowledge creation. The research by Carlo and Maitreyi address some of the most important health challenges which face our society today."

Professor of Cardiovascular Pharmacology Anwar Baydoun is DMU’s Springboard champion, supporting early career researchers in collaboration with AMS. He said: “It has been a privilege supporting colleagues at DMU to achieve this success and I look forward to facilitating the successful delivery of their projects and developing their research independence going forward.”

Professor James Naismith FMedSci, Vice-President (Non-Clinical) at the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “Scientists face immense challenges as they begin their careers, and the Academy recognises the hurdles early career researchers must navigate as they establish themselves, which is why initiatives like Springboard are vital. Through this unique programme, we are extremely pleased to support 54 exceptional scientists with our largest-ever round of funding.  

"The Academy, together with our partners, is committed to cultivating the next generation of biomedical research leaders and ensuring they have the resources and support necessary to realise their immense potential. By providing substantial financial backing and access to invaluable career development opportunities at this critical stage, we can enable talented researchers to deliver breakthroughs and innovations to improve human health."

The Springboard programme is supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Wellcome, British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK.

Posted on Friday 22 March 2024

  Search news archive