Two LMS post-docs awarded an early-career Wellcome Trust Fellowship

 22 February 2022   Institute News

We are proud to share the news that two MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) post-docs, Dr Dounia Djeghloul and Dr Lucy Penfold, have been awarded ISSF Springboard Fellowships by the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Djeghloul plans to use the fellowship award to enhance our understanding of how immunity-related genes present on the X-chromosome and usually switched-off begin to be expressed as a woman ages. This is an important phenomenon to unpick as the enhanced gene expression has been linked to an increased risk of auto-immune disease.

Commenting on her new fellowship, Dr Djeghloul said: “I am delighted to have been awarded the ISSF Springboard fellowship. This is an exciting opportunity to continue my work and collaborations on the identification of factors important for conveying epigenetic memory at active and inactive X chromosomes in human lymphocytes and test their functional role in regulating X-linked auto-immune diseases, extending my research focus at the intersection between Epigenetics and Immunology. The results of this study will enable me to build a strong base upon which I can launch longer-term research projects to become an independent research leader.”

Dr Penfold, plans to use the fellowship award to establish a culturing method for patient-derived explants (PDEs). By taking human prostate cancer biopsy samples and culturing them in the lab she will be able to create PDEs that have similar tissue structure and characteristics to a cancer residing in the body. This will mean that any research using the PDEs will be clinically relevant, and any findings generated will stand a high chance of translating into useful cancer treatment insights.

Commenting on her new fellowship, Dr Penfold said: “I heard I’d been successful in securing the fellowship just before Christmas – it was a fantastic Christmas present! I was really happy as this award will allow me to continue my current research aimed at validating a drug target to better treat prostate cancer, specifically it will allow me to set up a new platform using patient tissue. I’m excited to see how the project progresses thanks to the ISSF fellowship!”

The ISSF Springboard Fellowships provide flexible funding for up to 12 months, aiming to enable researchers to acquire preliminary data and develop the independence required to be competitive for future external fellowship applications. The fellowships are open to researchers working within the science remit of the Wellcome Trust.

You can find out more about the LMS Epigenetic Memory research group, where Dr Djeghloul works here. And you can find out more about the LMS Cellular Stress research group where Dr Penfold works here.