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Five Birkbeck academics secure research awards worth £4.2million

Grants have been made by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

Professor Carolyn Moores
Professor Carolyn Moores

Three large research grants have been awarded recently to five Birkbeck academics: Professor Fiona Candlin, Professor Emerita and College Fellow Alex Poulovassilis, Professor Peter Wood, Professor Carolyn Moores and Dr Virginia Carter Leno (King’s College London), who is joining Birkbeck in October and is being sponsored by Professor Denis Mareschal . 

The research projects span a range of subject areas, including examining museum closures in the UK from 2000 to 2025; regulation and resilience of the neuronal microtubule cytoskeleton in health and disease; and a project looking into factors that may explain why some children respond very differently to sensory inputs. 

Carolyn Moores, Professor of Structural Biology, commented:Our project will be possible because of the superb structural biology research environment at Birkbeck. In particular, the high-end Electron Microscope Facility and the specialist High Performance Computing support are essential to our exploration of the architecture of human brain cells and how this is disrupted in disease. We are very lucky to have expert colleagues to enable this research and for this capability and track record to be recognised by the Medical Research Council.” 

Fiona Candlin, Professor of Museology, said: “The Mapping Museums Lab combines academics from computer and data science, museum studies, and history. This funding enables us to continue collaborating and to develop our unique, multi-disciplinary research on the UK museum sector.
Here are more details on each grant:  

Arts and Humanities Research Council, Professor Fiona Candlin, Professor Alex Poulovassilis, Professor Peter Wood (and Dr Andrea Ballatore, King’s College London)  
Museum closure in the UK 2000-2025 
Award value: £997k  
This trans-disciplinary project will establish the first dataset to focus on museum closure, analyse the distribution of museums that close, investigate flows of objects and knowledge in the wake of closure, and develop new concepts of the museum’s life cycle.  

Medical Research Council, Professor Carolyn Moores  
Regulation and resilience of the neuronal microtubule cytoskeleton in health and disease 
Award value: £1.5m  
In the same way our body has a skeleton that provides us with support and strength, neurons have a skeleton, called a cytoskeleton. This project will focus on a part of the cytoskeleton called microtubules. In the future, knowledge arising from the work may allow us to target and repair the broken parts of the cytoskeleton machinery in diseased or damaged neurons. Such understanding could also shed light on new treatments for dementia, stroke and physical injury.  

Wellcome Trust, Dr Virginia Carter Leno (King’s College London); Sponsor: Professor Denis Mareschal  
Career Development Fellowship: Atypical sensory responsivity in early childhood: identification of brain-based risk and resilience features and characterisation of developmental cascades 
Award Value: £1.9m  
This project will elucidate the factors that may explain why some children respond very differently to sensory inputs, and may lead to important insights as to where to best target support for children with atypical sensory responsivity to promote positive outcomes.  

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