Skip to main content
We provide full or part funding for studentships and projects

We provide full or part funding for studentships and projects. Read about some of the projects and studentships.

Glioblastoma – The Daphne Merrills Studentship

Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain cancer in adults, with around 2,500 cases diagnosed each year in the UK. It is a grade 4 tumour, meaning that it grows and spreads quickly. The current treatment strategy includes surgery to involve as much tumour as possible. This is followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy to target the remaining tumour. These treatments prolong survival but are not curative. Only a quarter of patients survive more than a year from diagnosis.

Imagine the brain as a building. The walls are cells, each with different functions and roles. Together they ensure the building remains upstanding. The bricks are the proteins that ensure these walls can function properly. When glioblastoma enters the picture, there is a rearrangement of these bricks. Some disintegrate, others change shape, some move to entirely different locations. Consequently this affects various walls which negatively impact the overall stability of the entire building.

Within the project the intension is to study a protein, or brick if we follow the analogy above. The protein is called Fam20C. It has been shown to be remarkably elevated in glioma tumours. Imagine Fam20C is a square brick. We know there are only supposed to be twenty of these, but suddenly there are a hundred. This will affect all the other bricks around them and therefore, eventually, the building as a whole.

Glioma tumours lacking Fam20C do not grow well in mouse brain. Its absence significantly extends survival. This suggests that Fam20C is important for tumour growth. Blocking its effects could be a way to inhibit growth. Fam20C will be investigated in more detail. The hope is to understand Fam20C’s effects on the different cell types that make up the tumour. Therefore, to understand its role in glioblastoma growth and development.

This could open the way to the development of therapies that target these processes, making the brain cancer more susceptible to chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Acute stroke

We provide full or part funding for studentships and projects that help researchers to get preliminary data to improve their bids to larger funding bodies.

The trustees of the Foundation were, therefore, delighted when our £9.6K award for a stroke study led to a £250K grant.  Professor Keith Muir at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow is leading the study.

Some strokes are caused by a large clot from the heart blocking blood supply to the brain. Current practice is to attempt to remove the clot, but only if this can be done within 4.5 hours of onset of the stroke. Prof Muir’s team are exploring whether this time window could be extended to 24 hours. Clearly, the sooner treatment is applied the better.

Time is brain’ should still be the slogan, but perhaps there could be some benefit for patients up to 24 hours.

We eagerly await the results of the full study.

Prevention of stroke

There are two types of stroke. The first is when clots in the blood supply prevent nutrients getting to brain tissue. Leakages from blood vessels lead to internal bleeding is the second.

This studentship focusses on the second type, which is the cause of around 13% of all strokes. The team will be exploring the potential of materials derived from parasitic worms. These worms have been shown to have the properties needed to stop the leakage of blood.

The team is led by Dr Hilary Carswell at the University of Strathclyde.


We are supporting Dr Rajeev Krishnadas and his colleagues. They are using advanced medical imaging techniques to study information circuits in the brain in patients presenting with schizophrenia. One of the challenges facing them is to study the patients before they get antipsychotic drug treatment as that could affect the pattern of brain activity.

Good progress is being made.

Stroke, head injury and Alzheimer’s Disease

Researcher Dr Kristin Flegal, came to Glasgow University from the University of California. She worked with Dr Will McGeown at Strathclyde University. Together they are developing self-help strategies to limit the effects of memory loss in these patients. The technique being explored in this project is called adaptive training. This is where the level of difficulty of training tasks increases throughout the training period.

We like this study as it aims to give the subjects some ownership of their condition rather than just relying on drugs.

Early detection of deterioration in children who have had a head injury

This project is led by consultant neurosurgeon Mr Roddy O’Kane and clinical scientist Dr Ian Piper. The award helped them to set up a European network to investigate why patients often develop unexpected complications after head injuries. There are centres in the following locations –

  • Glasgow
  • Edinburgh
  • Birmingham
  • Liverpool
  • Oxford
  • Nottingham
  • Newcastle
  • Barcelona
  • Leuven (Belgium)
  • Iasi (Romania)
  • Bristol,
  • London (St George’s)
  • Manchester Riga (Latvia)
  • Bucharest (Romania)

As a result of the initial study that we funded, further grant income was secured. The researchers were awarded an EU Grant of 600K Euro’s from the EU ERA-NET-NEURON programme to undertake studies using the network infrastructure.

We provide full or part funding for studentships and projects. Here are some final reports and updates.

1) Brain Cancer

Dr Sarah Derby, Dr Ross Carruthers, Dr Joanna Birch and Prof Anthony Chalmers have completed a project in brain cancer with the help of funding from us.

Cancer treatments are designed to kill tumour cells but the DNA damage repair mechanisms in the body interfere with this. This has led to the use of DNA damage repair inhibitors. ATR inhibitor (ATRi) is one such substance. It is known that glioblastoma cells spread from the original tumour site. This is one reason why it is such a difficult condition to treat.

However, it had been postulated that ATRi might limit this spread. This series of experiments was designed to get a better understanding of this process. They have succeeded in doing this and the results have been submitted for peer review to a high impact journal.

The group are planning to take this work forward to clinical trials.

2) Acute stroke. Assessment and therapy combined.

An original award of ~£10,000 from NSF has so far led to a further £1.6M grant income. There are also 5 full peer reviewed publications and a spinout company – Aurum Biosciences – has been formed. Aurum Biosciences has raised over £3M from investors in the UK and USA. The project aims to establish methods of assessing tissue metabolism in regions of the brain after a stroke. To do this a material called ABL101 will be administered to patients who will have an MRI scan.

As well as enabling regions of low metabolism to be identified, ABL101 should also improve the delivery of oxygen to parts of the brain that are compromised. Techniques like this are called ‘theragnostics’ because of the potential for both diagnosis and therapy. Clinical trials are underway.Further information is available at

3) Cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s Disease is multifactorial: A neuropsychological study  

Click to read the Final Report by Callum Smith – June 2020

4) Memory training for stroke and head injury patients

Click to read the Final Report by Drs Flegal and McGeown – November 2020

5) Research In The Intensive Care Units

Funding from the Neurosciences Foundation enabled Dr Ian Piper to obtain preliminary data that helped to secure a €2.3M framework 7 grant from the European Union.

6) Brain Tumour Project

The Neurosciences Foundation raised £150,000 to support the pioneering work of Professor Moira Brown. Prof Brown demonstrated that a modified version of the HSV virus that causes cold sores could selectively destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells and not normal brain cells.

7) Migraine Project

Migraine is an often-disabling neurological disorder affecting around 1 billion people worldwide. It is triggered by the CGRP neuropeptide. This is a chemical produced in nerves in the face. In this project, our team are designing synthetic versions of CGRP that can mimic the natural CGRP and block its action. This is known to stop a migraine attack or prevent it from starting.

Our prototype new migraine medicines work in animal models but are quickly broken down by enzymes in the blood. Their effects are very short-lived. Adam Schofield (PhD student in the Coxon Lab) has so far managed to make changes to the synthetic peptide that have extended the half-life from 30 minutes to ~26 hours through a process called lipidation. Lipidation is a method in which the peptide reversibly binds to another protein within the blood. This hides the peptide from the enzymes that break it down.

Recent studies show that our modifications have not hindered the biological effect for treating migraine. This is a very exciting development that we hope to improve on further over the coming months, thanks to The Neuroscience Foundation funding.