Dr Laura Ferraiuolo wins 2019 Paulo Gontijo Award

Dr Laura Ferraiuolo

Dr Laura Ferraiuolo, from the Department of Neuroscience and Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), has achieved international recognition for her work to investigate the causes and treatment of motor neurone disease (MND).

Dr Ferraiuolo has been awarded the 11th Paulo Gontijo Award in recognition of her work on the contribution of glial cells in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and their importance as a therapeutic target. The award was judged rigorously by the jury committee of the Paulo Gontijo Institute (IPG), composed of five researchers recognised by the international scientific community.

Established in 2007, the Paulo Gontijo Award recognises young researchers below 40 years of age who have dedicated their scientific work to investigate the causes and treatment of motor neuron disease.

Dr Ferraiuolo is a Reader in Translational Neurobiology, the work of her research group has demonstrated that glia play an active role in neuronal degeneration. Her lab uses various in vitro cell models, including primary cells and genetically reprogrammed human progenitor cells, to investigate the interaction between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes from patients affected by MND with neurons.

Dr Ferraiuolo said: "I am grateful to the patients affected by MND who are at the centre of my research efforts and a constant motivation to work hard to find new therapeutic approaches for this devastating disease. Being recognised for the work I have carried out over the years with my team, amongst inspiring leading scientists in the field who have previously received the Paulo Gontijo award is a great honour. I am lucky to be surrounded by excellent scientists at SITraN, all driven to unravel the complex processes leading to neurodegeneration".

The award ceremony will take place in December 2019 during the opening of the International Symposium on ALS/MND in Perth, Australia, where Dr Ferraiuolo will present her winning paper to the scientific community.