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Championing the pursuit of knowledge

15 September 2017

Your belief in supporting learning and discovery at Bristol is evident. This year you have enabled Bristol to push innovative research and provide high quality facilities for our PhD students to pursue their studies and further the knowledge and achievements of our University community.

Your gifts have supported 45 PhD students just like Jose Gerardo-Aviles to pursue pioneering and potentially world-changing research that could change our lives forever. Here Jose talks about the impact of your support and the ground-breaking research that he is working on.

‘It’s predicted that Alzheimer’s disease will affect over 35 million people by 2050. The impact will be devastating for sufferers, their families, and society. My hope is that, by investing now to understand this complex brain disease, we’ll be able to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and even offer a cure.

My PhD research, made possible by gifts like yours, aims to help us understand the neurological processes which contribute to the traumatic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Without first understanding the disease and its related conditions, we won’t be able to offer the hope of treatment to the 520,000 people currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the UK – and their families.

In my research, I am hoping to gain an understanding of how the processes of degeneration may occur. My PhD focuses on the recently discovered area of microRNAs. MicroRNAs control which genes are expressed and are important for all biological processes.

MicroRNAs may offer a non-invasive method for early diagnosis and prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease. If we can find a way to use them as easily accessible bio-markers, microRNAs might allow more accurate tracking of the progress and treatment of the disease. I am exploring whether the changes in microRNAs that I have observed in Alzheimer’s brains may be used as a diagnostic tool.

As an overseas student, I would not have been able to continue my doctoral studies without the support of Bristol alumni and friends. My research is novel and therefore expensive. Donation in support of postgraduate research is hugely encouraging and has enabled the exciting results I’ve obtained so far. I am optimistic that support for my research will provide important steps forward in the understanding and perhaps even the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.’

Further information

Thank you for believing in Bristol. Click here to return to our Benefactor's report 2016/17.