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The University of Southampton

International award for Southampton scientist

Published: 1 October 2013

Dr Jonathan Watts, a lecturer in Chemical Biology and a member of the Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), is the winner of the 2013 Young Investigator Award by the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society.

The award recognises outstanding achievements and contributions by a young scientist in this promising field of multidisciplinary science.  Oligonucleotides could hold the key to treating genetic conditions such as Huntington's Disease, viral diseases and cancer.

Jon is working to optimise the chemistry of oligonucleotide drugs and to find new platforms to deliver them inside cells. These drugs are designed to block the expression of disease-causing RNA (a biomolecule that transfers genetic information from DNA to protein). Conventional drugs can only target around a third of the human genome to treat disease, but it is hoped oligonucleotide therapies will be useful for a much broader range of targets.

"This is an exciting area to work in," explains Jon. "I am collaborating with clinicians at Southampton General Hospital to fight diseases ranging from asthma to colon cancer.  Southampton has a real strength in oligonucleotides research and it's an ideal context for our work."

The OTS award was made on the quality of the applicant's previous research. Having graduated with a PhD from McGill University in Montreal in 2008, Jon has published 18 papers and carried out five major projects in this area. He joined the University of Southampton in 2012.  His award will be presented at the 9th annual meeting of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society in Naples.

Dr Jonathan Watts
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