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Officially unveiled by Her Majesty The Queen in November 2010, the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) is unlike any other in the world. We are taking a look back at a decade of advances in neuroscience whilst looking to the future of research in Sheffield.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) have been awarded a $700,000 drug development grant to progress a potential targeted therapy for motor neurone disease (MND) into clinical trials.
The University of Sheffield with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the only site in the UK to have participated in an international clinical trial for an investigational drug in people with a form of motor neurone disease (MND)
Neuroscience research at the University of Sheffield has been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen for delivering real benefits in improving patient outcomes for people living with some of the most devastating neurodegenerative diseases.
The Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) based at the University of Sheffield was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize today (21 November 2019) at St James’s Palace.
The prize awarded to SITraN is unique in the honours system and only bestowed upon a UK college or university which demonstrates new and innovative approaches to its research and development that have delivered benefits to the public at local, national and global levels.
SITraN’s vision is to harness the rapidly emerging, exciting developments in neuroscience to translate into new treatments and improved quality of life for patients with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Achievements highlighted by the award include:
Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Director of SITraN, said: “Receiving this award is a great honour. It gives recognition to our research teams who have made enormous scientific progress in treating some of the most devastating neurological diseases, making a real difference to patients’ lives.
“We hope that this award will inspire confidence for patients and their families, research partners and donors as we continue to make discoveries that deepen the understanding of neurological diseases and open up the potential for new treatments and therapies.”
SITraN – which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020 – is considered a world-leader in neuroscience research. Its work forms part of the University of Sheffield’s Neuroscience Institute, which aims to bring academics together from across varied specialties to translate scientific discoveries from the lab into pioneering treatments that will benefit people living with neurodegenerative diseases.
Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “It’s wonderful to see the Queen’s Anniversary Award recognising the University of Sheffield as a centre for excellence in neuroscience research and teaching which has the power to transform people’s lives.
“As well as making life-changing discoveries today, SITraN is nurturing the next generation of talented neuroscience students, whose research will lead to pioneering treatments for those living with neurological diseases in the future.”
Chair of the Royal Anniversary Trust, Sir Damon Buffini, said: “The prizes are granted every two years by the Queen and are the most prestigious national honour awarded to UK universities and colleges for their work.
“Entries in the scheme are invited in any subject area and are subjected to rigorous independent assessment in a process managed by the Royal Anniversary Trust. Recommendations for the Queen’s approval are made on the Prime Minister’s advice.
“The criteria are demanding and look for outstanding excellence in the chosen field, for innovation and for evidence of real public benefit. Competition is strong and the award is a mark of high quality in education and training which is widely recognised internationally as well as in the UK.”
Dr Hautbergue joined the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) in August 2012 to set up a specialist laboratory for RNA Molecular Biology. His area of research and teaching focuses on the investigation of gene expression in physiological and neurodegenerative diseases with a particular research focus on motor neurone disease (MND).
Research in his group aims at identifying dysregulated gene expression events that cause incurable neurodegenerative conditions such as MND in order to correct these using gene therapy approaches.
Dr Hautbergue and colleagues showed for the first time that manipulating a cellular process involved in the transport of RNA molecules across nuclear pores confers a novel potential promising strategy of neuroprotection for the most common form of MND.
Throughout his career, Dr Hautbergue has had a variety of roles across the RNA field which have allowed him to become an advisor to students and colleagues on translational and RNA biology experiments. As an elected member of the Royal Society of Biology, Dr Hautbergue will also contribute to policy making, strategy and influence developments in science within the Royal Society of Biology.
Having grown up in a small village in Burgundy in rural France, Dr Hautbergue developed an interest in the biology behind things from an early age. He said: “From the age of 12, I became so fascinated by biology that for my 14th birthday, I had built with my father a lab bench in my bedroom. It was great and pleased everyone at home as I used to perform experiments with chemicals as well as microscopic observations with insects or small animals on the kitchen dining table.”
On being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Dr Hautbergue said: “It is a great honour and privilege to have been invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) following a nomination and a review process that was unknown to me.”
“Being recognised by others I don’t know, but who have judged the research I carry with passion as a prominent contribution to the advancement of biological sciences is an incredible feeling at this stage of my career. It is difficult to find words. It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I will engage with the other members of the Royal Society of Biology.”
Dr Hautbergue added: “None of this would have been possible without the excellent researchers that are surrounding me, both junior and senior, as well as all of the technical and professional teams that support our work. I would like to thank all of them for the inspiring research and teaching atmosphere they create in the Department of Neuroscience.
"In particular, I express my deepest acknowledgements to Dr Lydia Castelli and Dr Ya-Hui (Erica) Lin who are talented postdoctoral researchers in my team and to the fantastic collaborators I feel lucky to routinely work with. These include Prof Dame Pamela Shaw, Prof Mimoun Azzouz, Dr Laura Ferraiuolo, Dr Alex Withworth, Dr Marta Milo and Dr Tennore Ramesh. I am also immensely grateful to the patrons that support our Institute and the patients with MND who kindly provide biosamples which are essential to our research.”
Being part of the Royal Society of Biology means that Dr Hautbergue joins a community of over 17,500 leading minds that make up the diverse membership of individuals and organisations from across the world.
Read more about Dr Hautbergue’s achievements and experiences here