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Dr. Sandrine Wauters, PhD researching multiple system atrophy

Dr. Sandrine Wauters, PhD

A Guest Blog Post Written by Dr. Sandrine Wauters, PhD

Salerno, Italy, April 22-23, 2016

Attending the Salerno 5th International Congress on Multiple System Atrophy was very beneficial to my multiple system atrophy research in many ways.

Firstly, by allowing me to present my poster of recent unpublished data I collected while being funded by the MSA Trust for the past 18 months. I was able to talk to different scientists about the caveats of certain results which gave me more ideas in how to structure the paper and future experiments.

Secondly, those who were expert in mitochondrial dysfunction gave me some guidance in how to interpret certain data which they have replicated independently. This has given me confidence in the technique I used and how to understand what the results signify in the field.

Thirdly, certain talks presented at the congress mentioned the impact of the Mitsui. J et al., (2013) paper which I referenced in my poster and which sparked my project. This showed how scientists in this field are all focusing on similar aspects of MSA pathogenesis which confirms its importance and can spark new collaborations.

Dr. Sonja Scholz from the USA shared the genetic advances in MSA in reference to a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) where genes linked to different cellular processes were mentioned, ranging from lipid metabolism to vasoconstriction. My knowledge of MSA registries was significantly expanded after hearing talks from scientists across the world. These registries are beneficial to research and clearly involve a lot of organisation and dedication.

I was also able to put a face to the name of many neuroscientists whose research I have read about or those who my colleagues collaborate with. I find that introducing yourself to fellow researchers can start strong collaborations and support networks. This also was a key theme of the congress – team work – and everyone sharing and supporting each other. We all have the same ultimate goal of finding a treatment or even a cure for MSA.

Hearing from Jill Lyons, an MSA nurse specialist in the UK was very touching as sometimes as a research scientist you can become so focused on your project aims that it is invaluable to be reminded that we have a whole team of people who work towards our mutual goal. This sense of community was a very powerful take home message from this congress.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the MSA Coalition for sponsoring the 5th International MSA Congress and awarding me a young investigator travel grant so that I might present my research poster. I am honoured and privileged. I was also very happy to see Pam Bower again at the congress and to update her on my research. We would not be able to do our research and make a difference without the MSA Coalition’s continued and invaluable support.

About the Author:

Dr. Sandrine Wauters, PhD, currently works at the Queen Square Brain Bank, University College London (UCL) as a Senior Research Technician under supervision of Professor Janice Holton and collaboration with Professor Henry Houlden (UCL) and Dr Iain Hargreaves (UCL).
She has received funding for her MSA research from the MSA Trust (UK) and from the King Baudouin Foundation. Her research poster presented at the 5th International MSA Congress was entitled “Mitochondrial dysfunction in multiple system atrophy” by Wauters SC, Kiely A, Houlden H, Hargreaves I and Holton JL – UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders and UCL Institute of Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery