The 9th Paulo Gontijo International Award in Medicine was awarded to Dr Rickie Patani (M.D., Ph.D.), Associate Professor at UCL’s Institute of Neurology and The Francis Crick Institute (UK). He is a Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology (Queen Square, UK).
Dr. Patani’s laboratory uses human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and developmentally-rationalised directed differentiation to generate clinically relevant populations of neuronal and glia. Dr. Patani’s work emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinarity and team science, integrating stem cell biology, developmental biology, neuropathology, bioinformatics and RNA biology. His research specifically focuses on two main areas: i) how abnormalities in RNA transcript structure lead to aberrant RNA-protein interactions to cause ALS and ii) how astrocytes conspire with motor neurons to cause ALS. By validating primary findings (from ALS patient-specific iPSCs) in mouse transgenic models and human post-mortem tissue from sporadic ALS cases, Dr Patani aims to translate high confidence discovery science into new therapeutic strategies, which are desperately needed in ALS.