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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Joseph Henderson


  Clinical Neurosciences, Christ's College

  PhD thesis: TBC



Research interests:

  1. Developing treatment for neurodegenerative disease
  2. Programmed axon death
  3. Molecular biology
  4. Neuroscience

Drugs targeting programmed axon death have the potential to prevent neurodegeneration across an array of historically incurable diseases. Programmed axon death is a mechanism of axon loss regulated by the opposing actions of two genes – the pro-degenerative SARM1 and the pro-survival NMNAT2. These genes have been associated with widespread neurodegenerative disorders, suggesting that programmed axon death may mediate diverse risk factors and neurodegeneration across disease phenotypes. By blocking the activity of SARM1, programmed axon death has been demonstrated to be entirely preventable in animal models, thus presenting the clinical potential of blocking SARM1 activity in humans.
I will work with the Coleman Laboratory to identify natural mutations of SARM1 and NMNAT2 that confer protection against neurodegeneration, investigate the underlying mechanisms, and explore any association with human disease. This will inform the current development of SARM1-blocking drugs and help to identify the most appropriate disorders and patients for effective clinical trials.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I am driven by a propensity for exploration and a desire to do good. My formal education in psychology led me to seek a more fundamental understanding of the human brain, and I endeavoured to apply my search for knowledge to a pursuit with the potential for direct positive impact. Ultimately, a personal connection to neurodegenerative disease has oriented me towards the development of treatment to combat neurodegeneration. In preparing for my PhD, I have become deeply fascinated with the fundaments of life, and I am excited to continue to explore the field of molecular biology.