University of Dundee

Double funding award for Esther Sammler

27 Jan 2020

Esther Sammler, Clinical Programme Leader in the MRCPPU and Clinical Senior Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in the School of Medicine, has been awarded funding by Tenovus Scotland and a personal donation by Emeritus Professor Pierre Descouts (Universite de Geneve) and his wife Christine to continue research into Parkinson's disease.

Tenovus Award

Esther received a £100,000 Tenovus Scotland Project Grant to work on ‘The gut brain axis’ which will allow her lab to explore the connection between the gut and Parkinson’s disease (PD) in man and mice. A connection between the gut and PD has long been recognized: constipation is a common non-motor symptom that often predates the emergence of motor problems and PD diagnosis by decades. The vagal nerve represents a direct connection between the brain stem and the intestinal tract and lends support to the Braak theory that PD might originate in the gut rather than the brain. Emerging data also points towards a connection between intestinal inflammation and the pathogenesis of PD - possibly with the Leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) as a link. The generous support from Tenovus Scotland will allow Esther to work together with Craig Mowat, honorary consultant gastroenterologist at the University of Dundee and Dario Alessi to study the effect of inflammatory bowel disease and gut inflammation on activation of the LRRK2 kinase that is involved in Parkinson’s disease, but has also links to inflammatory bowel disease. 

Christine and Pierre Descouts Donation

Emeritus Professor Pierre Descouts (Universite de Geneve) and his wife Christine visited the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit to meet with Dario Alessi, Miratul Muqit, Ian Ganley and Esther Sammler to hear about their exciting research into the causes of Parkinson’s disease and to go on a tour of the laboratory. The couple knows first-hand what it means to live with the condition and had decided to make a donation of £10,000 towards the research programme of Esther Sammler who also works as an honorary consultant neurologist for NHS Tayside. Esther commented that she was overwhelmed by Pierre and Christine’s generosity and that their inspiring donation will be used to kick start a new translational project in the lab.

Photo (from left): Miratul Muqit, Dario Alessi, Emeritus Professor Pierre Descouts and his wife Christine, Esther Sammler and Ian Ganley.