Dr Gemma Lace-Costigan
Lecturer in Molecular Bioscience
I joined the University of Salford in 2011 as a Biomedicine Teaching Fellow and was appointed as a lecturer in 2013. I am the technology enhanced learning champion for the School of Environment and Life Sciences with an interest in blended learning
I completed a BSc (Hons) Neuroscience at the University of Leeds before obtaining a PhD in Genomic Medicine at the University of Sheffield where I investigated Tau protein pathogenesis in ageing and dementia.
I remained at the University of Sheffield and was awarded a Sir John Stokes Research Fellowship and continued my ageing and dementia research before moving on to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease as a Research Associate. During my time at Sheffield I taught on a number of anatomy, physiology and pharmacology modules on the MbChB Medicine and BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science programmes
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and I teach on the Biomedicine programmes, specifically in the area of neuroscience, human physiology, histology, pathology, genetics and haematology.
I offer research projects associated with neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease as well as projects exploring brain injury. I also offer projects associated with the use of technology to enhance learning within the field of Biomedicine and the development of open education resources.
Accumulations of hyperphosphorylated and aggregated Tau protein is a feature of numerous neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s Disease, Pick’s Disease and progressive supranuclear palsy (Lace et al, 2007). Formation of Tau pathology occurs in an anatomically hierarchical manner, supporting a ‘spread’ of pathogenesis via neural connections (Lace et al, 2009) and the severity of Tau pathology is associated with cognitive decline. My research interests are associated with the interruption of this ‘cell to cell’ spread of neurodegenerative disease pathogenesis and the mechanisms underlying the accumulation of abnormal proteins.
I am also interested in the role of glial cells in neurodegeneration, since abnormal protein accumulations within glial cells is a common feature within the brains of aged and demented subjects (Lace et al, 2012). This is an interesting area of research since there is conflicting evidence supporting both neurotoxic and neuroprotective roles for glial cells within neurodegenerative disease.
Additionally, I am interested in pedagogy and I am currently exploring the utility of social media in teaching and learning, the development of open educational resources to support learning within the field of Bioscience and a number of technology enhanced learning projects.
Qualifications and Memberships
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Salford Institute for Dementia
Lace G, Ince PG, Brayne C, Savva GM, Matthews FE, de Silva R, Simpson JE, Wharton SB. Mesial Temporal Astrocyte Tau Pathology in the MRC-CFAS Ageing Brain Cohort. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2012;34(1):15-24
Wharton SB, Brayne C, Savva GM, Matthews FE, Forster G, Simpson J, Lace G, Ince PG. Epidemiological Neuropathology: The MRC Cognitive Function and Aging Study Experience. Journal of Alzheimers Disease. 2011 Jan 1;25(2):359-72.
Simpson JE, Ince PG, Lace G, Forster G, Shaw PJ, Matthews F, Savva G, Brayne C, Wharton SB; on behalf of the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Neuropathology Study Group. Astrocyte phenotype in relation to Alzheimer-type pathology in the ageing brain. Neurobiology of Aging. 2010 Apr;31(4):578-90.
Simpson JE, Ince PG, Haynes LJ, Theaker R, Gelsthorpe C, Baxter L, Forster G, Lace GL, Shaw PJ, Matthews FE, Savva GM, Brayne C, Wharton SB; on behalf of the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Neuropathology Study Group. Population Variation in Oxidative Stress and Astrocyte DNA Damage in Relation to Alzheimer-type Pathology in the Ageing Brain. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology. 2010 Feb;36(1):25-40.
Lace G, Savva GM, Forster G, de Silva R, Brayne C, Matthews FE, Barclay JJ, Dakin L, Ince PG, Wharton SB; MRC-CFAS. Hippocampal tau pathology is related to neuroanatomical connections: an ageing population-based study. Brain. 2009 132(Pt 5):1324-34.
Lace GL, Wharton SB, Ince PG. A brief history of tau: the evolving view of the microtubule-associated protein tau in neurodegenerative diseases. Clinical Neuropathology. 2007 26(2):43-58. Review.