Dr Arpan Mehta joins MRC Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit

Published on 16 February 2024

Dr Arpan Mehta, a neurologist specialising in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), has joined the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) in the School of Life Sciences.

On this page

Dr Arpan Mehta, a neurologist specialising in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a devastating disorder for which there are very limited treatments, has joined the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) in the School of Life Sciences.

Arpan has just completed his clinical neurology training at Oxford and UCL’s National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery at Queen Square in London and is the third clinical neurologist-scientist to join the MRC-PPU after Miratul Muqit and Esther Sammler.

At the MRC-PPU, Arpan plans to decipher the biology in motor neurons that is controlled by the NEK1 kinase, which is implicated in ALS. He plans to undertake experiments to define the key physiological phosphorylation targets of the NEK1 kinase in motor neurons and understand the function that phosphorylation of these targets plays. He will also undertake translational studies to investigate whether defective phosphorylation of NEK1 targets are observed in ALS patient biosamples and whether these can be employed as future biomarkers to stratify NEK1 driven ALS. Arpan will work closely with other PIs in the MRC-PPU, such as John Rouse who has an interest in NEK1.

Arpan undertook his pre-clinical studies at the University of Cambridge and then completed his medical studies at the University of Oxford, graduating with Distinction. As an undergraduate, he obtained significant research experience working on a project with James Rowe at the University of Cambridge (2011-2012) and Peter Brown at the University of Oxford (2013-2014). He also performed Medical Electives in India (Professor Madhuri Behari, AIIMS, New Delhi) as well as Toronto (Professor Tony Lang).

Following general medical training, he was awarded a prestigious MRC/MND Association Lady Edith Wolfson Clinical Fellowship to undertake his PhD training within Siddharthan Chandran’s laboratory (2017-2021), co-supervised by Giles Hardingham, at the University of Edinburgh’s UK Dementia Research Institute and Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic. During his PhD, Arpan trained in state-of-the-art methods in iPSC technology for generation of human neuron cell types including motor neurons. He specifically investigated the cellular phenotype of iPSC motor neurons derived from people with ALS harbouring the common C9ORF72 mutation, and discovered that these neurons exhibited mitochondrial bioenergetic failure, leading to axonal dysfunction. 

Arpan says “I feel very privileged to be part of the PPU family as I develop the skills needed to transition to independence.  I was fortunate enough towards the end of my PhD to have got a flavour of the outstanding research culture and environment fostered here, when I conducted work in Dario Alessi’s lab to characterise the interactome of the C9orf72 protein in human microglia.  My subsequent visits have further strengthened my resolve to undertake research dedicated to unravelling the role of kinases in ALS.  I am extremely grateful to everyone at the MRC PPU for welcoming me today with open arms, and to Miratul and Dario, in particular, for their support and mentorship, particularly over the past few months.”

Dario Alessi, MRC-PPU Director said “I am thrilled that we have attracted Arpan to our Unit. He is a fantastic Clinician-Scientist who has excelled at every stage of his career. Arpan is incredibly determined to make a major contribution to our understanding and treatment of ALS. I am extremely excited about the research that he plans to undertake on deciphering the roles that NEK1 plays in motor neuron disease that has tremendous potential to lead to future therapies for this devastating disorder. It also fits in with so much other ongoing research in the MRC-PPU.

Arpan is applying for Intermediate Clinical Fellowships to fund his future research in the MRC-PPU and will continue his clinical duties in parallel with his lab-based research.

Story category Appointments