Profile – Dr James Quinn

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Dr James Quinn

Job Title:

Research Fellow

Place of work / study:

Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology

Area of Research:

I’m trying to improve the understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to the different forms of dementia. I study the role of neuropeptides which are extremely important in neuronal signalling, contributing to synapse maintenance, energy balance and neurogenesis. We have identified that neuropeptides such as neurosecretory protein VGF (VGF) and chromogranin A (CHGA) to be consistently dysregulated in the brains and biofluids of patients with dementia. The role of my research fellowship is to develop diagnostic tests utilising these neuropeptides to improve diagnosis and stratification of dementia. I am also trying to unravel why these neuropeptides are dysregulated during dementia utilising molecular and cellular biology techniques. Overall, my work aims to improve the mechanistic understanding of dementia to improve diagnosis and identify new therapeutic targets.

How is your research funded:

Brightfocus and NIH research grants

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’ve been working as part of the Alzheimer’s clinical trial research unit (ACTRU) @ACTRU_MGH since May 2019 after completing my PhD at the University of Manchester. When I’m not in the lab you can find me exploring Boston, going travelling, bouldering and listening to live music.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself:

I crowd-surfed at Glastonbury to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”

Why did you choose to work in dementia:

During my undergraduate biology degree at the University of Sussex, I was fortunate to be lectured by the inspiring Professor Louise Serpell. I was sat in a lecture and Louise put up a slide comparing a healthy brain to one from a person who had died from Alzheimer’s disease, I was in a state of shock, I must have asked 10 questions during that lecture, much to the dismay of my course mates! After discussing with Louise, I applied and was awarded an Alzheimer’s Society and Society of Biology Undergraduate Bursary to work over the summer exploring how two proteins, Amyloid-Beta and tau, interact in dementia. My undergraduate and summer project sparked my curiosity, I wanted to know why we knew so little about dementia when it affected so many. I was fortunate to meet an inspiring mentor during my project, her husband had recently passed away from Frontotemporal dementia and this experience encouraged her to become involved with the Alzheimer’s Society, from my time in the lab and through meeting her, I realised that dementia research was the career for me and I’ve not looked back since.

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