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07.07.17

Dundee clinician scientist receives prestigious medical prize

Dr Miratul Muqit has received a prestigious award recognising his breakthroughs in understanding Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Muqit is both a Consultant Neurologist at Ninewells Hospital, where he treats Parkinson’s patients, and a researcher carrying out cutting-edge research into the debilitating condition in the School. He has been awarded the 2018 Graham Bull Prize in Clinical Science and Goulstonian Lecture of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

Dr Muqit is the first Dundee-based clinician to receive this award, and the first clinician from Scotland to win it for 40 years. He will receive his prize at a ceremony in October and deliver his Goulstonian Lecture at the RCP’s annual conference in March 2018.

The Goulstonian Lecture was endowed in memory of Dr Theodore Goulston and has been bestowed every year since 1639, making it one of the world’s longest running medical awards. The Graham Bull Prize was established in 1988 in honour of the first director of the MRC Clinical Research Centre.

They are awarded jointly each year by the RCP to researchers under the age of 45 who have made a major contribution to clinical science. Previous recipients include some of the UK’s best-known clinician scientists such as Peter Ratcliffe, Mark Walport, and Patrick Maxwell.

He said, “I am thrilled to receive this honour which is a reflection of the talent and dedication of the scientists in my research lab. This award highlights the fantastic research and clinical environment in Dundee. I am also extremely grateful to the funding bodies who have supported our research including local Dundee-based charities.”

Supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship, Dr Muqit’s research has shown how two proteins called PINK1 and Parkin play a crucial role in keeping cells healthy by ensuring that the energy-producing machinery of cells, mitochondria, are rapidly broken down and removed when damaged. Derailment of this process is likely to be a major cause of Parkinson’s. Dr Muqit is now exploiting this knowledge to design novel potential therapies.

Professor Dario Alessi, Director of the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at Dundee where Dr Muqit conducts his research, added, “This is wonderful recognition for the research that Dr Muqit and his lab are undertaking to piece together biology that is so relevant to better understanding and treating Parkinson’s disease. It is indeed a rare privilege to receive an award that has been given out for almost 400 years.”

Professor John Connell, Chairman of NHS Tayside, said, “I am delighted that Dr Muqit has been recognised by the Royal College of Physicians in this way. He is an outstanding clinical scientist and his work on Parkinson's disease is truly at the cutting edge of helping to identify new opportunities for understanding the disease process and possible treatments.

“NHS Tayside is very keen to ensure that it supports a research-led approach to patient care and our close links to the University of Dundee, exemplified by the Academic Health Sciences Partnership, allow huge opportunities for this.”