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Q&A with our new Director of Research, Jessica Lee

27 October 2022

My Name'5 Doddie Foundation recently appointed it's first Director of Research, Jessica Lee, as part of our commitment to funding the most promising research to find a cure to MND. 

We thought you'd like to get to know Jessica better, so grabbed 5 minutes out of her busy schedule for a quick Q&A below: 

Tell us a little bit about your background? 

My career to date has been focused around driving collaborative research approaches to tackle areas of high patient unmet need. I’ve worked in a number of scientific management roles across charity, not-for-profit and industry, and have had the opportunity to work across a range of different disease areas.

In my last role, I worked closely with UK medical research charities including the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Royal National Institute of Deafness, MND Association and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to establish international research programmes that brought patients together with leading experts to address barriers to medicines discovery. I’m passionate about working in partnership with patients to ensure their needs and priorities are at the heart of research activities.

What really excites you about working for My Name'5 Doddie Foundation?

Before I joined the Foundation, I was leading a project that brought together a European MND Expert Working Group to define Guiding Principles for MND Drug Discovery and Development. The Principles aim to help the community avoid common pitfalls and accelerate the development of new treatments for MND, they should be published soon. I learnt a huge amount about MND and the research landscape, and quickly became very passionate about making a difference for this devastating condition.

My Name'5 Doddie Foundation is at a really exciting point in its growth and I’m so pleased to be appointed as the first Research Director. In just 5 years since the Foundation was established, we have already committed over £7 million in research. I’ll now be working closely with our fabulous Research and Grants Officer, Olivia, to define the Foundation’s new research strategy and drive forward its research activities to accelerate towards our vision of a world free of MND.

What do you think of the current MND research landscape? 

There’s a huge momentum in MND research and we are very lucky to have a world-leading MND research community in the UK. For the first time ever, there is real hope that there are effective treatments to slow, stop or reverse the progression of MND on the horizon.

Our understanding of the biology underpinning MND is growing rapidly and many breakthroughs are now being translated into potential new treatments. We have world-leading clinical trial infrastructure in the UK so that new treatments can be rapidly tested in people with MND. It’s a really exciting time for the community which has never collaborated more closely, all working together towards a shared goal to make an impact for people with MND.

Are there any areas of MND research that have really caught your attention? 

As our understanding of MND biology has grown, the research community has identified a number of themes that could play an important role in disease progression. These include the role of the immune system, the process of ageing, altered metabolism of RNA (messages that code for new proteins) and autophagy (the process by which a cell “eats” some of its own material). If we can understand these processes and their impact on MND progression better, it could lead to real breakthroughs in our understanding that form the basis of potential new treatment options.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

I’m very lucky to live by the Peak District so I do lots of hiking with my partner Tom and our Border Collie, Roly. Otherwise, you’ll find me (very slowly) renovating our house or out eating yummy food with family and friends!

Q&A with our new Director of Research, Jessica Lee
Q&A with our new Director of Research, Jessica Lee

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