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Dr Helen Waller-Evans

Dr Helen Waller-Evans

Lecturer

School of Biosciences

Email
waller-evansh@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2251 1093
Campuses
0.20B, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Welsh speaking

Overview

I am a neuroscience lecturer at the Medicines Discovery Institute. In order to develop better neuroscience drugs, we need to fully understand the roles of potential drug targets and the pathways they are involved in. Work in my laboratory focusses on characterising the function of potential neuroscience drug targets and developing assays to assess the effects of novel drugs on this function. I have a particular interest in developing therapies that act on lysosomal proteins for use in psychiatric and neurological diseases.

Biography

Career History

2019 - present: Neuroscience lecturer, Medicines Discovery Institute, Cardiff University, where I develop novel drugs targeting lysosomal proteins

2012 - 2019: Research Associate with Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University. Here I investigated the mechanisms leading to pathogenesis in several lysosomal storage disorders, and is where I developed my interest in lysosomes.

2010 - 2012: Research Associate with Prof. Alun Davies FRS, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University. Here I investigated the role of growth factors in neuronal development, and how this is affected in neurological disorders including Parkinson disease.

2008 - 2010: Research Associate with Prof. Dominique Gauguier, University of Oxford. Here I investigated the contribution of different genes to the severity of type 2 diabetes.

2005 - 2008: PhD with Dr Andreas Russ, University of Oxford, investigating the role of GPR126, an orphan GPCR, in mouse development.

2004 - 2005: Technician with Dr Andreas Russ, University of Oxford.

2003 - 2004: Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (distinction), Oxford Brookes University.

2002 - 2003: Histologist with Prof. Nick Rawlins, University of Oxford.

1998 - 2002: BSc Hons (1st class) Applied Biology, University of Bath.

Publications

2020

2018

2015

2014

2013

2012

2010

2009

Research Interests

My research focuses on elucidating the functions of lysosomal proteins and their roles in neurological disorders, and developing novel drugs that target these proteins for use in both diseases of ageing and lysosomal storage disorders - rare genetic diseases caused by defects in lysosomal proteins.

My main research interest is the NPC1 protein, a lysosomal protein with a suggested role in cholesterol transport. Loss of NPC1 function auses Niemann-Pick type C disease, a lysosomal storage disorder, where affected childern have difficulty walking and swallowing, learning difficulties, epilepsy and dementia. Current treatments can slow disease progression but do not tackle the fundamental lack of NPC1 activity. I am developing functional assays for the lysosomal NPC1 protein, which will allow me to conduct drug screens for molecules that can activate NPC1 in Niemann-Pick type C patients.

NPC1 is also used as an intracellular receptor by several viruses, including Ebola, hepatitis C, and feline coronaviruses. I am investigating whether drugs that inhibit the NPC1 protein can prevent SARS-CoV-2 entering cells, which could enable their rapid re-purposing to treat Covid-19.

Current lab members

Gareth Fenn - PhD student

Sian Gardiner - senior technician

Marcus Hanley - PhD student

Bethany Tattersdill - research assistant

Gabby Ward - technician

Collaborators

Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans (School of Biosciences, Cardiff University)

Dr Ceri Fielding (School of Medicine, Cardiff University)

Prof. Simon Pope (School of Chemistry, Cardiff University)

Prof. Colin Berry (School of Biosciences, Cardiff University)

Funding

Research in my laboratory is funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences, Niemann-Pick Research Foundation, Welsh Government, and Harrington Research Institute.

Areas of expertise

External profiles