Dr Wioleta Zelek
Race Against Dementia Fellow
Place of work / study:
Area of Research:
Complement Biology, Therapeutics, Immunology, Biomarkers.
How is your work funded?
Currently, Health Care Research Wales (HCRW) Fellowship; from January 2022, Race Against Dementia – Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK-RAD) Fellowship.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am an immunologist, trained in chemistry with several years of industrial experience. I started working at Cardiff University in 2015 as a Research Technician, then progressed to undertaking a PhD with Professor Paul Morgan funded by the Welsh Government, studying the complement system as a target for developing new drugs to treat autoimmune diseases. This time was highly enjoyable and productive, generating several publications. I continued this work after my PhD thanks to support from ISSF (Wellcome Trust) and am now again supported by Welsh Government on a Health Care Research Wales (HCRW) Fellowship.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
I have always been attracted to both science and art; everyone in my close circle was convinced that I would become a famous artist, having won a number of local awards and established a large art portfolio, but the minute I walked into the research lab, the joy and endless possibilities I discovered, I was sold on science. I was encouraged by my teachers to undertake a University Chemistry course, this decision came as a surprise to my family (and to me!) as I was first person in my family to go to University.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
There is currently no cure for dementia. Looking back, the view is more battlefield than landscape, littered with the corpses of abandoned or failed drugs. Looking forward, there is every reason to be optimistic. There is intense ongoing research activity; critically, many new studies have showed strong evidence of complement playing important roles in driving pathology and neuroinflammation in AD and other brain diseases. My expertise is in generating anti-complement drugs for treatment of inflammatory diseases. By applying my knowledge and skills I hope to make an impact on dementia drugs discovery.