Benjamin O’Callaghan

PhD student

I graduated from UCL with a MSci Pharmacology degree and have now joined the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases as a PhD student. During my first year rotating in different laboratories I gained an interest in the modelling of human neuromuscular diseases using stem cells derived from patients.

Mitochondrial diseases are a variable group of disorders caused by a genetic impairment to the ‘power houses’ of our cells; the mitochondria. Tissues which have high energy requirements such as muscle and nerve are generally affected. At present there is no effective clinical treatment for mitochondrial diseases. In my project we are differentiating stem cells derived from mitochondrial disease patients into skeletal muscle cells as a model of the human disease. By differentiating patient stem cells into affected cell types we can explore the different mechanisms which contribute to disease and test possible drug treatments in the laboratory rather than directly on a patient.

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