UT scientist Kerensa Broersen received a Fulbright scholarship enabling her to do research during half a year, at the University of California – Berkeley.
Dr. Kerensa Broersen is specialized in research into the cause of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s: how do they start and how does the disease spread in the brain? Thanks to the Fulbright scholarship, she will now be able to do research on the further spreading of the disease inside the brain, together with the group of Randy Schekman who won a Nobel Prize in 2013. “Schekman’s expertise is protein transport, especially in yeast cells”, Broersen explains. “Research shows that the disease starts in a relatively small part of the brain, but will damage other parts as well. Protein transport in small vesicles could be responsible for this spreading. This is something I want to know more about. For me, it is a great opportunity to do some ‘hands on’ lab work again, in this top group. Apart from that, I will get some teaching responsibilities.”
In her own work at the University of Twente, within the NanoBioPhysics group (MESA+ and MIRA institutes), Kerensa Broersen looks at the ‘misfolding’ and cluttering of proteins in the brain. This seems to play a role in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS disease. They, in turn, cause immune reactions. Interesting question is if it is possible to deliver medication ‘on the spot’, using nano particles. Another route is to develop a lab-on-a-chip system for in vitro research: how do the proteins respond to medication? The research she now will do in USA, will help her better understand what’s going on in the brain, Kerensa expects.
The Fulbright programme is a worldwide programme for bilateral exchange between USA and partner countries – 160 in total. Fulbright scholarships are for Master students, PhD’s and ‘senior scholars’, for gaining valuable experience in USA.