We caught up with our newest Group Leader, Dr Kat Bowles (UK DRI at Edinburgh) ahead of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, to find out more about her passion for her research, the stresses involved with setting up a new lab, and how the unwavering support of other women has lifted her up throughout her career.
“I fell in love with anything and everything to do with tau, I don’t understand why anyone researches anything else, because it’s the most interesting protein ever!” Dr Bowles says.
Misfolded tau is one of the main hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The protein normally helps provide structural support to nerve cells in the brain – acting as a type of scaffolding. In Alzheimer’s, it becomes misfolded and accumulates in clumps, or tangles, and is implicated strongly with the symptoms of cognitive decline that are associated with the disease.
Before joining the UK DRI, Dr Bowles worked in Prof Alison Goate’s lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, where she moved after her PhD.
“Initially I only intended to stay in New York for two years,” she explains, “but I ended up staying there for seven years altogether. I learnt everything I do now in Alison’s lab: it’s where I first got exposure to iPSC modelling, genetics, and where I started working on tau.”