Biological Sciences

School researchers awarded Chancellor’s Fellowships

Dr Aida Rodrigo Albors and Dr Richard Wheeler have been awarded one of the University of Edinburgh’s most prestigious fellowships to develop their innovative work.

Some 33 academics have been selected as the latest Chancellor’s Fellows – a five-year programme for promising early career researchers.

The new fellows will be supported to achieve their research and leadership ambitions through a tailored programme that helps them realise their research, innovation and leadership ambitions.

Aida Rodrigo Albors

Dr Aida Rodrigo Albors

Aida is a Postdoctoral Research Associate studying spinal cord regeneration in Professor Ian Chambers’ research group at the Institute for Stem Cell Research. 

Her research examines spinal cord injuries to reveal cellular and molecular mechanisms that could play a role in spinal cord regeneration. 

In the UK there are around 50,000 people living with spinal cord injury and 2,500 people sustain an injury every year. There are currently no effective treatments to repair spinal cord damage.

As well as studying mice with spinal cord injuries, her work also focuses on the remarkable healing and regenerative abilities of a species of salamander, known as axolotl.

Axolotls do not heal by scarring and are capable of regenerating entire lost body parts and, in some cases, more vital structures, such as their heart, spine and even parts of their brain.

Insights into these extraordinary regenerative abilities could end scientists’ long search for ways to reconnect severed neural connections, both immediately and long after the spinal injury occurs.

In the future, these insights could lead to new strategies to repair spinal cord injuries in humans.

Richard Wheeler

Dr Richard Wheeler

Richard, who is currently based at the University of Oxford, studies the molecular cell biology of unicellular Leishmania parasites, a deadly neglected tropical pathogen. 

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. An estimated 700 000 to 1 million new cases occur annually.

The most common form is cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores. The other main form is visceral leishmaniasis, which affects several internal organs (usually spleen, liver, and bone marrow) and can be life threatening.

It is caused by infection with Leishmania parasites, which are spread by the bite of infected sand flies.

By combining advanced reverse genetics and microscopy with development and integration of large datasets Richard aims to discover the most important cellular systems for Leishmania success. 

A major focus is the flagellum, which the parasites use to swim and is necessary for progression through its life cycle.

Investing in talent

The University was committed to ensuring the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion informed the appointment process. 

Nearly 60 per cent of the new cohort are female and 19 per cent are from ethnic minority groups.

The University has awarded Chancellor’s Fellowships since 2014. They are designed to help the most promising academics advance from the early stages of their career to more senior roles, and to empower their ground-breaking research.

We are delighted to welcome this latest cohort of Chancellor’s Fellows, who join over 450 Fellows we have recruited through this scheme over the past decade. Their transformative projects will help us deliver our ambitious goals for research and impact in the areas of future health and care, tackling the environmental crisis, and harnessing data, digital and AI for social and economic benefit.

Professor Christina BoswellVice-Principal Innovation and Enterprise

Related Links

Aida Rodrigo Albors 

Richard Wheeler

Chancellor’s Fellowships