Maria Kreger Karabova

I have recently completed the E. P. Abraham Scholarship-sponsored DPhil programme in Molecular Cell Biology in Health and Disease under the supervision of Dr Sally Cowley and Prof William James. My project investigated the role of human microglia in the progression of tau pathology in tauopathies – neurodegenerative diseases characterised by the accumulation and prion-like spread of aggregated tau protein. I am currently continuing the investigation as a postdoctoral researcher thanks to the extension scheme provided by Sir William Dunn School of Pathology. 

My academic journey started in medicine. During the studies, I realised that the methods and medication available, particularly with regards to the diseases of the brain, can often leave doctors applying plasters to gunshot wounds. A search for real advancements in the way we treat brain disorders led me to science. I completed my neuroscience training at the King’s College London in 2018 with an extra-mural year at the UCI MIND Institute in California, USA. There, under the mentorship and supervision from Prof Carl Cotman, I worked on several projects, including the investigation of IL12/23-induced modulation of synaptic plasticity, elucidation of effective exercise patterns for long-term memory formation, and targeting H3K9me3 for treatment of cognitive decline associated with ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Our work on the effect of early-life exercise on late-life cognitive reserve received the Gold Award in STEM for Britain 2018.  

More current awards include the ARUK Thames Valley Pilot grant to study the changes in human microglial gene expression landscape in response to tau, the ARUK Thames Valley Image Competition 2023 prize, and the Eurotau 2021 conference poster prize. 

If I am not in the lab, you can most likely find me staring down a microscope (EM’s my favourite), lifting heavy weights, baking, hiking, or drinking way too much coffee.  

Scanning (left) and transmission (right) electron micrographs of healthy, control iPSC-macrophages associating with (blue arrow) and internalising (red arrow) human recombinant 2N4R tau fibrils.