Liverpool academic named best young scientist

Dr Aphrodite Vasilaki is presented with the Catherine Pasquier Award by French cardiologist and husband of Catherine, Dr Gerard Pasquier

University of Liverpool academic, Dr Aphrodite Vasilaki was presented with the prestigious Catherine Pasquier Award at a glittering ceremony in London, in recognition of her “outstanding” free radical research through her studies into skeletal muscle ageing.

The award is distributed annually by the European Society for Free Radical Research (SFRR-Europe) to the best young scientific investigator, chosen from Society membership by an international committee chaired by the President-elect.

A great honour

Dr Vasilaki, originally from Thessaloniki in Greece, said she was “delighted” to receive the award from French cardiologist and husband of Catherine, Dr Gerard Pasquier.

Dr Vasilaki said: “It’s very prestigious and I’m delighted to receive it, it’s a great honour for me.”

Dr Vasilaki’s work aims to determine the mechanisms underlying the weakness that develops in skeletal muscles with ageing.  Her specific project examines whether defective skeletal muscle regeneration occuring during ageing is mediated through abnormal reactive oxygen species (ROS) activities in motor neurons and/or muscle cells, which result in defective re-growth and interactions of motor neurons with the regenerating muscle fibres.

Professor Malcolm Jackson, Head of the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, nominated Dr Vasilaki for the award.

Next generation of research leaders

Professor Jackson said: “Aphrodite was proposed for this award in recognition of the outstanding research she has been undertaking in the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease. She is part of the internationally-recognised group studying the mechanisms underlying why we become weak and frail as we age, and has made important contributions to knowledge in this area.

“The Institute sees development of outstanding young researchers as key to our strategic aims and ambitions and we are delighted to see this external recognition of one of our next generation of research leaders.”

The Catherine Pasquier Award was initiated in honour of the former SFRR-Europe President, who died in 2002 while still in post. It is presented to outstanding young scientists who demonstrate excellence at the beginning of their professional careers.

Dr Aphrodite Vasilaki completed her PhD at the University in 2003, before accepting a five year postdoctoral position, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, at the School of Clinical Sciences.

In 2009, she was awarded a Personal Research Fellowship by UK charity, Research into Ageing, a part of Age UK.

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