Dr. John Marshall
Q: What prompted you to begin a career in research?
A: In College, I had planned to do veterinary science, but my Professor Ron Bardsley, at Sutton Bonington, University of Nottingham, was an inspirational teacher and passionate about research and this rubbed off on me.
Q: What led you to specifically target Angelman syndrome?
A: After a seminar given by Ben Philpot at Brown University, it struck us that the compound we had been working on might be useful for this disorder.
Q: What is your specific area of focus within the field of Angelman syndrome research?
A: We focus on the molecular mechanisms that regulate learning.
Q: What have you learned through your research thus far, and what is the next step?
A: We have identified signaling defects in Angelman syndrome and have developed a compound that overcomes these defects. The next stage is to develop a drug that may be given to patients.
Q: What is the single most rewarding aspect of conducting Angelman syndrome research?
A: My interaction and correspondence with parents. In particular Heather Daniel and her daughter Kendal Daniel were very encouraging at a stage when we were about to give up.
Q: How do you see your research complimenting the efforts of other Angelman syndrome or neurodevelopmental disorder researchers?
A: Our research is just one piece of the puzzle. There is still a lot we do not know. It is important to attack this disorder in many ways in order to develop new treatments. Certainly what we learn in Angelman syndrome will be applicable to other disorders such as Rett Syndrome, possibly Pitt Hopkins, autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson’s, depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.
Q: Does your research focus on any other disorders?
A: We focus on neuroprotection and in close collaboration with Dr. Dennis Goebel at Wayne State, we have been working on disorders of the eye and treatments for stroke. With Dr. Querfurth of RIH we have been interested in Alzheimer’s, and recently we have been in collaboration with Adam and Joanna Chodobski regarding traumatic brain injury.
Q: What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
A: Now that I am old, all I can do is play tennis regularly and jog. I used to play rugby and squash where you have to be pretty fit.
Q: Do you have someone in or outside the scientific community that has inspired you or is there someone you look up to as a personal hero?
A: As I mentioned, the parents who I have talked to about Angelman syndrome and other disorders drives us not to give up and keep writing those grants!
Please provide any other interesting information about yourself or your work that you would like the Angelman syndrome community to know about you.
I am appreciative to Brown University for providing a great environment to perform research. At many Universities, it would be harder to perform this type of long-term study.