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Grace Research Fund PhD Student

The money raised from the many events you’ve organised, ranging from running and cycling challenges, charity balls and cake sales, means we have been able to appoint Ayan Dirir as our first PhD researcher.

She will be working with Dr Andrew Blanks to carry out research over the next three to four years into a key protein which can prevent women from going into early labour.

Their studies will take place at the Clinical Science Research Laboratories, which is part of the Warwick Medical School at the University Hospital, Coventry.

Ayan will be concentrating on studying the role of a protein called Phospholipase C-like 1 which could lead to new tests being carried out in the future. She comments:

Premature births is the largest cause of mortality for babies and if we can predict which women are more likely to go into premature labour, we might be able to intervene and stop more premature births which, in turn, will reduce more deaths or babies having a disability.

She goes on to explain:

We have identified Phospholipase C-like 1 as a key protein in preventing premature muscle contractions and labour but we don’t know how it achieves this yet which will be the focus of our research. The information we gather will aid the development of a new clinical test to predict who is likely to go into labour early and will help to develop new drugs to prevent premature contractions and delivery.

The potential is that it could lead to a commercial testing kit so that it becomes part of routine testing.

Dr Andy Coe said that your donations to the Grace Research Fund whether they have been small or large had funded this post:

Many, many people have been fundraising for the Grace Research Fund over a very long time, often because they have had premature babies or know a relative or friend who has.

Their fundraising efforts mean we have been able to fund a PhD researcher into developing studies into reducing premature births which is potentially an exciting piece of research.

We hope people will continue to support the Grace Research Fund so that we can fund other extremely important studies.