Profile – Dr Zara Franklin, University of Aberdeen

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Dr Zara Franklin


Dr Zara Franklin

Job title:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Place of work / study:

University of Aberdeen

Area of Research:

Alzheimer’s Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

How is your work funded?

Alzheimer’s Research UK Project Grant

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Aberdeen working on the interplay between neurodegeneration and metabolic health, employing a systems-based approach to study the role of metabolic factors, such as diabetes and ageing in brain pathology vs. peripheral tissues. My current focus is how cells use dietary ‘fuel molecules’ to produce energy for physiology and homeostasis, and how related disorders impact the energy-hungry brain. Outside of the lab, I am a mum of two navigating school and nursery with many extra-curricular activities, squeezing in yoga and reading the odd crime novel or two whenever I get the chance.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself:

I trampolined competitively as a teenager, and can still do some tricks!

Why did you choose to work in dementia?

I have always been fascinated by science and research, and was also very into sports in my youth leading me to a degree in Food and Nutrition. I became interested in how food habits effect metabolic health, spending time in the food industry examining ways to make foods more satiating (reading lots about gut-brain interactions), and this is where my basic lab research career started. I completed a PhD in drug discovery for Type 2 Diabetes therapy, and delved into islet biology and signalling in my first post-doc. But throughout this, I was always pestering colleagues in brain health research about their work, reading more and more about dementia and the links with diabetes. I developed a real interest about the impact of metabolic health on brain health, and knew it was something I wanted to pursue. The end of a contract and maternity break seemed like perfect opportunity to move into dementia research. I relocated to Aberdeen, and started my journey as a post-doc studying the interplay between Alzheimer’s Disease and metabolic health.

What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?

Build a support network. Find a mentor(s) early, join a career development group, go to the pub/socialise with lab members. Have a network of people who know what you do, but also those independent of the lab you work. It is so important to have people you can talk to, bounce ideas off, and help keep you on track with your career goal.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. Yes, I’m half way through and hooked!

Can we find you on Twitter & Instagram?

Follow @ZJ_franlin on Instagram

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