Elsa Kuijper started working as a PhD-student in the NeuroD lab in March 2019 after completing her studies in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leiden. During the research internships in her studies, she came across immunometabolism, autophagy and Huntington’s Disease, using techniques ranging from molecular biology to bioinformatics. Although she enjoyed unravelling pathways, she particularly liked doing translational research, combining knowledge of fundamental biology and disease mechanisms to answer clinical questions.
In 2018, she did her final internship of her Master’s in the group of Willeke van Roon-Mom in collaboration with the group of Biosemantics led by Marco Roos. She looked for common diseases signatures in blood and brain of a mouse model of Huntington’s Disease to explore the use of blood to monitor disease progression.
Being intrigued by neurodegenerative diseases and enjoying her time in the NeuroD lab, she was pleased to be able to continue as a PhD-student, studying the pathogenesis and therapeutic options in Huntington’s disease and Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3. For these two polyglutamine disorders, she is currently working on exon skipping-mediated therapies in cell and animal models of the diseases. Here, the aim is to remove the toxic part of the disease protein with the use of antisense oligonucleotides.