Neural stem cell placement for student

Postgraduate student Matt Sherwood, centre, with Denis Wilkins (Chair Peninsula Medical Foundation), Laura Rodriguez-Diaz, Dr Jon Gil-Ranedo and Dr Claudia Barros

A biochemistry graduate from the University of Bristol, who is also an Officer in the Royal Naval Reserves, has secured a placement with a research team at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD) which is one of the research groups worldwide investigating different brain neural stem cells.

The placement has been funded by the Peninsula Medical Foundation, a charity which raises funds for PUPSMD.

Matt Sherwood will work with principal investigator Dr Claudia Barros, postdoctoral fellow Dr Jon Gil-Ranedo and their team on the neural stem cell project. Neural stem cells give rise to our brain neural cells. There are distinct types of neural stem cells yet little is known about what distinguishes them.

An understanding of the mechanism of difference is important because it could lead to the future development of neural stem cell-based therapies to counter the neural loss observed in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders (such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease) and in brain injury.

Dr Barros commented: 

“We are looking forward to welcoming Matt to the team. While with us he will gain experience across a spectrum of research techniques. He will also learn more of how neural stem cells develop and are regulated. This should give him an advantage and help him to progress faster in his career as a young researcher.”

Matt said: 

“This incredibly exciting opportunity to work with Dr Barros’s team will provide me with my first hands-on experience of stem cell research, a field which I am very passionate about. Gaining knowledge and practice using neural stem cells and the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster (a species of fly), will add great value to my next stage in pursuing this fascinating field, the commencement of a Stem Cell Master of Research degree later this year.”

Denis Wilkins, Chair of the Peninsula Medical Foundation, added: 

“The Foundation is really pleased to be supporting talented young scientists such as Matt, who are helping to further important research while gaining invaluable experience for their future careers in research. This particular research project offers the chance of hope for the many thousands affected by neurodegenerative disease.”