Michael Grange is a group leader at the Franklin specialising in electron cryo-tomography. In his own words: “My research group is really focused on bringing structural biology techniques into a contextual relevance. We want to be able to look at macromolecular structures within complex systems and understand how those structures bare on a physiologically relevant sample. This means looking inside tissues and organoids etc, where processes occur in 3-dimensions. We are focussing our efforts on neurodegeneration and neurobiology as a problem with a pressing biological and medical need, where greater molecular insight is required.”
Dr Grange has received the Wellcome Career Development Award, with funding of £2.8 million for 8 years. The Wellcome Career Development awards (grants) are given to researchers in different fields who work to improve human life, health and wellbeing of individuals. He agreed to answer some questions about the impact this award will have.
How do you think the fellowship will shape your work going forward?
This fellowship allows me to expand the work in my group towards the clinic, attempting to harness structural biology in situ as a mean to assess molecular pathology. The samples we will be working on will allow us to understand how disease forming hallmarks impact on cellular structure and cellular function. Crucially, we can examine early time points in these pathways.
One of the expectations for someone who gets the award is that you start training the next generation of researchers and develop their research skills and careers. How do you think the environment at the Franklin allows you to do that?
The Franklin allows people to focus on their research and explore these technologies to the fullest. The technologies are at the cutting edge, and this means that people working at the Franklin are working on the frontier of the field, so they are trained at the leading edge of possibilities in each technology, field or expertise.
The Franklin is also focused on investing in and developing its people – the fellowship will mean that there will be more people who I will have the opportunity to interact with and train. I want to build a group which has that intellectual freedom and build projects around the technologies and harness the strengths of developments across the Franklin.
Will you be having any collaborations or working with anyone external?
This grant will allow us to continue and strengthen our collaborations with Dr Sara Wells at the MRC Mary Lyon centre, Dr Frances Wiseman and Dr Cara Croft at the Dementia Research Institute/UCL and Prof. Olaf Ansorge at Oxford. Together we are hoping to build up new capabilities able to look into the molecular causes of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Collaboration and input from universities and other similar institutions are crucial in driving our research forward. We hope that we can begin to demonstrate the capability of our approaches to industry, so that pharmaceutical and biotech companies can begin to help us shape how we apply the approaches we develop to have an even greater impact on disease treatment.