Leeds researcher awarded one of the inaugural Springboard grants

Dr Edwin Chen (Molecular and Cellular Biology) has been awarded a grant by a new scheme to support researchers.

Edwin chen

The scheme, which is a collaboration between the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Wellcome Trust, is designed to support researchers in their first independent research position.

Over £1.8m has been awarded to the first participants, and the awardees will receive a research grant of up to £100,000 for two years plus mentoring from Academy Fellows and access to leadership and career development activities.

This grant will allow Dr Chen and his research team to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying a disease called primary myelofibrosis (MF), a rare but fatal bone marrow cancer that affects thousands of people in the UK. In patients with myelofibrosis, abnormal stem cells can grow quickly and take over the bone marrow, causing both excessive fibrous scar formation and impairing production of normal blood cells. The process of how fibrosis develops in patients with myelofibrosis is the topic of his research.

Dr Chen said: “Unfortunately, we still know relatively little about what causes bone marrow fibrosis in MF patients, and this deficit has clearly impacted on our ability to design new therapies which can potentially halt or reverse fibrosis. In our earlier work, we have identified specific DNA repair pathways which are defective in some MF patients and which we believe may be responsible for bone marrow fibrosis. We are extremely grateful for this grant from the Academy of Medical Science which will allow us to pursue this very exciting avenue of inquiry.

"We are also grateful to the Academy of Medical Sciences and to the University of Leeds for establishing and supporting a scheme such as the springboard, which can allow early-career researchers such as myself to really hit the ground running with our research visions. The mentorship scheme is particularly exciting, and will give all of us a chance to meet and interact with a vast community of world-class basic researchers and physician-scientists. It’s an incredible honour and privilege to be part of this inaugural cohort of recipients for these awards.”

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