Past Pupil and post doctoral research scientist, Dr Lauren Watson (nee Hartmann) receives prestigious award for research at Oxford University

Lauren WatsonDr Lauren Watson, who matriculated at Wynberg Girls’ High in 2004,  is currently working at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at University of Oxford. She joined the laboratory of Dr Esther Becker as a postdoctoral research scientist in January 2015. Her research focuses on understanding how mutations in certain genes lead to the development of neurological disorders. In order to do this, she has developed a technique for generating brain cells in the laboratory, using skin cells donated by adult patients. These cells can be used to study disease progression without the need for invasive harvesting of patient brain tissue.

She was recently awarded the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual European Fellowship from the European Commission, which will fund her research at Oxford for the next two years. These fellowships are “awarded to the best or most promising researchers of any nationality, for employment in EU Member States or Associated Countries”, and offer the opportunity to engage in multi-disciplinary research at world-class institutions.

During the course of her fellowship, she hopes to use the cell model she has developed to try and understand the molecular mechanisms underlying a particularly devastating group of inherited movement disorders, known as the cerebellar ataxias, with a view to screening potential therapies for these conditions. She also plans to explore collaborations with other research groups, and to present her research at international conferences.

We are extremely proud of Lauren and her achievements and congratulate her on this prestigious fellowship.