About our team

Dr. Jenna Gregory (PI: Senior Clinical Lecturer, Consultant Histopathologist & Clinical Lead for NHS Grampian Biorepository/Tissue Bank)

Jenna Gregory’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases with a particular focus on ALS. Her work involves studying patient post-mortem material for molecular differences that could explain why people with ALS have such diverse symptoms, including differences in disease progression and cognitive involvement. The aim of her work is to identify targets that could be used for diagnosis or to monitor disease progression, or ultimately, for therapies to improve the outlook for people with ALS.

Jenna studied preclinical medicine at St Andrews University before completing her clinical training and undertaking her PhD at Cambridge University. Following this Jenna moved to the University of Edinburgh to train as a pathologist and was appointed as a SCREDS clinical lecturer in 2018.

Dr. Fergal Waldron (Advanced Research Fellow)

Fergal’s research examines factors that influence disease heterogeniety in ALS with special focus on the role of inflammation and immune pathways. His work involves a combination of experimental, bioinformatics and evidence synthesis approaches to answer fundamental questions in ALS research.

Fergal obtained his PhD in Evolutionary Genetics from the University of Cambridge before undertaking postdoctoral work at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh. His past research has focused on the evolutionary genetics of antiviral immunity in invertebrate animal models, and the evolution of antiviral immunity across invertebrates. https://www.abdn.ac.uk/people/fergal.waldron#about

Dr. Holly Spence (Research Fellow)

Holly’s research focuses on the physical biology of neurodegeneration in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal dementia.

Holly completed her PhD in Medical Sciences at University of Aberdeen investigating the role of brain iron in age-related cognitive decline and exploring the relationships between brain iron and blood markers for iron and inflammation.

Olivia Rifai (PhD student)

Olivia’s project aims to identify factors underlying clinical and molecular heterogeneity along the ALS-FTD spectrum, with a particular focus on neuroinflammatory signatures. This work employs methods such as immunohistochemistry and single cell RNA sequencing of post-mortem tissue and human stem cell-derived models, with the goal of better understanding mechanisms that may delineate ALS subtypes to allow for optimal clinical trial stratification and outcome measurement. Olivia is the proud recipient of an ADPD Junior Faculty Award presented to her at the ADPD meeting in Gothenburg, April 2023.

Olivia completed her BA in Biochemistry and MSc in Chemistry in 2018 as part of the Roy & Diana Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and began her PhD in 2019 as part of the Wellcome Translational Neuroscience PhD Programme at the University of Edinburgh.

Judi O’Shaughnessy (Histology technician)

Judi is a histology technician with 20 years’ experience who is currently working on a project funded by the Pathological Society, and more recently the NIH, tasked with understanding the biophysical properties of human tissue with a research focus on motor neuron disease. This role is a joint appointment assisting both the Gregory Lab and the Horrocks Lab in the Department of Chemistry (University of Edinburgh). Judi’s previous roles have included a broad range of clinical and research applications of her skills including clinical (NHS) tissue handling, as well as university-based academic research and tissue banking (Edinburgh Brain Bank).

Judi trained in London and moved to Edinburgh in 2013. Her specialist skills include: human tissue handling, microtomy, whole slide processing and imaging, immunohistochemical staining, special stains and BaseScope in situ hybridisation. Judi also helps with other projects in the lab and has substantial expertise in protocol development, lab safety and management.

Dr. Sam Pattle (Academic pathologist)

Sam’s research focuses on finding occult morphological and molecular tissue reactions in patients with long-term systemic diseases, and exploring how such ‘para-pathologies’ relate to disease progression and patient outcome. His interests encompass malignant, neurodegenerative (including ALS), infectious and autoimmune conditions. His work involves histological and molecular analysis combined with intelligent extraction, curation and synthesis of pathological and clinical data to create deeply phenotyped tissue banks that enable long-term systemic diseases to be studied through linked tissue and clinical data across the lifetime of the patient.

Sam is a pathologist with medical and specialist training undertaken in Edinburgh. He obtained his PhD in Molecular Virology from St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College London, before undertaking postdoctoral work in the Channing Laboratory, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and in the Division of Pathway Medicine, University of Edinburgh.

Past students

Danah Sleibi

Danah is a medical student in Aberdeen with an interest in neuroscience. As part of the Aberdeen Summer Research Scholarship (ASRS) programme she investigated key clinical-pathological correlations of rare genetic variants in ALS using human tissue staining techniques combining BaseScope RNA ISH and immunohistochemistry (July-Aug 2022).

Rollo Press

Rollo is a medical student in Aberdeen with interests in neuroscience and surgery. Rollo carried out his honours research project with us (Jan – March 2023) aimed at understanding the role of the gut in ALS.

Alexander Jackson

Alexander is a medical student in Aberdeen with interests in neurology and general practice. Alexander carried out his honours research project with us (Jan – March 2023) aimed at understanding the role of the microbiome in ALS and was awarded the “University of Aberdeen School of Medical Science Neuroscience Prize 2023”. Congratulations Alexander :-)!

Christine Addae-Kyereme

Christine is a medical student in Aberdeen with an interest in neuroscience, in particular the role of the gut-brain axis in neurodegenerative disease. Christine worked with us (July-Aug 2023) as part of the Aberdeen Summer Research Scholarship (ASRS) programme investigating the role of iron in neurodegeneration.

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