Memorabel career development grant (3 years) for Femke Feringa

30 July 2019

Femke Feringa (FGA) did her PhD in cancer research but decided to switch to neurodegeneration and study why genes involved in immune responses and cholesterol metabolism are among the strongest associations with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) accounts for 70% of all age-related dementias in humans. While heavily studied for decades, fundamental understanding of the origin of this disease is still lacking. Recently, around 30 susceptibility loci in the genome have been linked to development of late-onset AD (LOAD). The majority of the genes implicated in AD development by these studies have predicted roles in immune responses and cholesterol metabolism. Understanding how these genetic variants contribute to AD development will be important to uncover how AD originates and develops. In the memorabel fellowship project, Femke will use stem cell and gene-editing technologies to study how two LOAD-risk variants affect lipid metabolism and the immune response and contribute to accumulation of phosphorylated Tau and Abeta. This fundamental knowledge is important for the development of novel treatment strategies in the future.

In 2018 Femke Feringa obtained her PhD in Molecular Cell Biology in the lab of prof. Medema at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. During her PhD she studied how cellular fate is determined after the DNA in a cell is damaged. At the beginning of this year she switched research fields and started working as a postdoc in the lab of prof. Verhage studying neuronal cell death. With the memorabel fellowship she will start working with dr. Rik vd Kant using her cell biology expertise to study Alzheimers disease etiology.

Regarding her background in cancer research, the Memorabel committee noted: “Alzheimer’s research can learn a lot from research into the mechanisms of cancer. This field is so advanced. The committee also finds it remarkable that the researcher has mastered the subject so well in such a short time”