€1.2 million in EU Funding for new TCD Centre for Brain Mitochondrial Research

Posted on: 27 October 2006

TCD Researchers in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology have been awarded €1.2 million in funding by the European Union to study how mitochondria control neurodegeneration in the brain.

The average person contains about 7 kg of mitochondria that continuously supply the majority of the energy transfer molecule, ATP, to all parts of the body. On an average day mitochondria will make 65 kg of ATP that is used especially by muscle and the brain. However when mitochondria are damaged they compromise the ability of muscle cells and neurons to work normally and to withstand different types of cellular stress. Indeed, dysfunctional mitochondria have been associated with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease and are also thought to control the cellular ageing process.

Through the European Union Marie Curie Actions programme, € 1.2 million is being provided to fund a Transfer of Knowledge research project called “Characterisation of Mitochondrial Proteins in the Brain” that will establish a centre for brain mitochondrial research in TCD. According to Dr Gavin Davey, TCD Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience and project co-coordinator, ” the research will focus on understanding the different types of mitochondria in the brain using mass spectrometry and imaging techniques and will shed light on the reasons why Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease occur”. In addition, computational modelling of mitochondrial functional will be carried out in conjunction with researchers in TCD’s Centre for Systems Biology and in the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

Five new postdoctoral researchers from abroad, who are experts in proteomic and imaging, are locating to TCD and will transfer knowledge to the centre enabling the core activities to be established. Existing researchers will also travel from TCD to the Medical Research Council  Dunn Institute in Cambridge, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, the University of Siena and the Kadir Has University in Istanbul for research interactions.

The centre for mitochondrial research builds on the research interests of TCD ‘s School of Biochemistry and Immunology’s Dr Richard Porter and Prof Keith Tipton as well as Dr Caroline Jeffries of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and will elucidate the role that mitochondria play in controlling neurodegenerative processes in the brain.