University NIHR researcher to receive prestigious national award

Worshipful Society of Apothecaries coat of arms

Dr Lauren Walker, a National Institute for Health Research Academic Clinical Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Apothecaries Prize.

The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London is an innovative and progressive institution, firmly established at the forefront of modern-day medicine and a leading player in the advancement of medical research and knowledge.

To mark the 400th Anniversary of the granting of its Royal Charter by King James I in 1617, the Society of Apothecaries established an appeal fund for making grants in three areas. One of these is the support of the newly established Apothecaries Prize. 2018 will be the first year in which the prize is awarded.

‘Competitive entry’

Dr Walker submitted her paper, entitled ‘Molecular isoforms of high-mobility group box 1 are mechanistic biomarkers for epilepsy’, for the consideration of the award. The paper highlights that different forms of the protein HMGB1 are expressed in the blood of people with drug-resistant epilepsy compared to those who have good seizure control. These isoforms could be used to identify patients that may benefit from anti-inflammatory therapies.

The paper was selected from a large, very competitive entry and it was felt by the assessors that her work had the greatest overall merit.

Of the selection Dr Walker said: “It is a huge honour to have been selected for this award. The study has implications for the future development of therapeutics for epilepsy.

“I very much hope that this paper will lead to greater awareness and understanding of the role that aberrant inflammation plays in drug-resistant epilepsy.”

Research leaders

Dr Walker’s research interest is in the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy. She qualified in medicine from the University of Liverpool, with an additional intercalated honours degree in human anatomy and cell biology. Following this she completed her junior medical training in the Mersey medical rotation.

Through her clinical lectureship, Lauren continues to investigate potential biomarkers for epilepsy.

Dr Walker was a clinical training fellow on the North West England MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship Programme in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics scheme. The initiative is funded by the MRC and run jointly by the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester.

Future generation

The scheme, led by Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, from the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine, and Professor Christopher Griffiths , from the University of Manchester, provides world-class training to develop the next generation of research leaders in clinical pharmacology. This has been identified as a skills shortage priority area for UK across multiple stakeholders including healthcare, academia and industry.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, said: “This award again highlights the success of the scheme, and the importance of the dedicated funding that is being received from the MRC and Industry partners (Roche, UCB, Novartis and Eli Lilly) in developing the future generation of clinical pharmacologists”

Dr Walker will receive a medal and a cheque for £1,000, to be given at the subsequent Galen Award Ceremony which takes place annually in May 2018.

Dr Lauren Walker

More information about Dr Walker’s research can be found here.

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