Group leader, Anne Bertolotti, is joining Michael Hastings as Joint Head of the LMB’s Neurobiology Division. The Division has been expanding significantly over the last 10 years, as new areas of research have been added, in addition to other successful areas being extended.
“I congratulate Anne on this important appointment. Her scientific and personal leadership will be key for the LMB’s strategy to strengthen and expand research in Neurobiology.” – Jan Löwe, LMB Director
Anne joined the LMB as a Group Leader in 2006. Her research focuses on the cause of neurodegenerative diseases, specifically in understanding and preventing the deposition of misfolded proteins that are a key component of these diseases. This work has led to the discovery of several natural protective processes which cells use against misfolded protein, such as those accumulating in neurodegenerative diseases.
Cells strive to ensure that proteins are correctly folded and have powerful and sophisticated protein quality control systems. However, these seem to gradually fail with age, leading to the accumulation of misfolded proteins with the resulting catastrophic consequences for cells and organisms. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease are caused by the progressive dysfunction and death of specific nerve cells in selective regions of the brain due to the accumulation of specific proteins. These proteins are expressed throughout life but their effects mostly arise as late-onset diseases, suggesting the various disease-causing proteins gradually become detrimental over time. While it is now well established that misfolded proteins cause distinct neurodegenerative diseases, why they accumulate remains largely unclear. Working on this question and its therapeutic cures are a key focus of Anne’s work. Recently, by harnessing cellular defences, her group were involved in discovering candidate drugs that gives the cell more time to fix misfolded proteins, creating a breakthrough in the field of phosphatases and neurodegenerative disease.
Anne began her career in Biochemistry with a PhD at Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire, Illkirch, France. In 1998, she became a postdoctoral scientist at the Skirball Institute in New York, and then returned to France to start her own lab at the Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris. Here she began work on how misfolded proteins contribute to neurodegenerative diseases, work she has continued at the LMB.
In 2013, Anne was elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO). In April 2017, she was awarded the GlaxoSmithKline Award for recognition of research leading to new advances in medical science. In the same year, she was elected as a fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences for her contribution to understanding protein quality control systems and their therapeutic applications.
Upon receiving the news, Anne said “I am both thrilled and honoured by this appointment, joining Mick Hastings to follow in the footsteps of Nigel Unwin and Michel Goedert. I am looking forward to continuing developing the youngest Division of LMB”.
The Neurobiology Division was founded in 1992 and focuses on understanding how brains give rise to conscious thought and how understanding the biological science behind this could hope to drive forward medicines. The goal of the Division is to explore the properties of nerve cells at a fundamental level. This includes the mechanisms that determine the special abilities of nerve cells, allowing nerves to rapidly transmit and process information. The Division also explores rules for communication between small numbers of nerve cells in the brain and the accompanying behaviours. In addition, by understanding the molecular processes that lead to common dementias and movement disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, the Division hopes to open more doors into medical treatments.