Dr Lauren Watson
I am particularly passionate about understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, in order to develop effective therapies. My PhD research involved the generation of the first induced pluripotent stem cells from South African patients with Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7), which I used to develop neuronal models for the condition. For my PhD studies, I was awarded a South African National Research Foundation Scarce Skills Doctoral Scholarship, a Harry Crossley Foundation Research Fellowship, and a Commonwealth Scholarship, which enabled me to spend a year of my PhD at the University of Oxford, in Professor Matthew Wood’s laboratory.
After obtaining my PhD from the University of Cape Town in 2012, I received a National Research Foundation Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowship, enabling me to spend two years as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Divisions of Human Genetics and Cell Biology at UCT, where my work focused on the further development of stem cell-derived neuronal models for inherited neurodegenerative disease.
I joined the laboratory of Dr Esther Becker as a postdoctoral scientist in January 2015. I am currently working on developing a stem cell-based neuronal model of SCA14. I was recently awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowship from the European Commission to enable me to further develop this research.