Dr Lauren Watson
I joined the Division of Human Genetics in 2006, after graduating with a BSc in Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology from UCT. My BSc (Med) Honours and MSc (Med) projects involved investigating the molecular basis of a novel familial fibrosing disorder, under the supervision of Prof Bongani Mayosi.
In 2009, I joined the neurodegenerative disease research group for a PhD. My research, completed in collaboration with Prof Matthew Wood (University of Oxford), Assoc Prof Marco Weinberg (then at the University of the Witwatersrand) and Dr Janine Scholefield (CSIR) focused on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Spinocerebellar Ataxia 7, an inherited neurodegenerative disease, through the use of induced pluripotent stem cell-based models. During the course of my PhD, I spent a year at the University of Oxford, as part of the Commonwealth Scholarships Split-site programme.
I was awarded my PhD at the end of 2012 (for a thesis entitled “Novel cell models for the study of Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 7 pathogenesis and therapy in a South African patient cohort”), and I am currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in the neurodegenerative disease research group, where my research involves the further development of the iPSC model generated during my PhD, as a tool for therapeutic testing. I am also involved in the establishment of the Stem Cell Unit at UCT, together with colleagues in the Division of Cell Biology.
Project Title: “Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) disease modelling and therapy screening using induced pluripotent stem cell-derived models”
Supervisor: Professor J Greenberg