Lecturer of the Biology of Ageing at Biosciences, University of Kent
Her research is focused on understanding how host-microbiome interactions affect ageing of the host nervous system (https://marinaezcurralab.com/).
Marina is on the society’s board of trustees.
Tell us a bit about your career development
As an undergraduate student in Sweden I really wanted to research neural circuits and behaviour
using the model organism C. elegans. As there weren’t any research groups Sweden working on this I packed my bags and moved to San Diego, California to do a project in Bill Schafer’s lab at UCSD. The Schafer lab provided me with opportunities, inspiration and mentoring. I stayed on for a PhD and when Bill got a position at MRC-LMB in Cambridge, we moved the lab to Cambridge, exposing me to a new, world class research environment. During my PhD I got fascinated by the biology of ageing and how a simple organism like C elegans has been fundamental for our understanding of ageing. I joined David Gems’ lab at the Institute of Healthy Ageing at UCL for a postdoc and to pursue a career in ageing research. This was an amazing opportunity to interact with researchers working on ageing using different model systems – it taught me the value of working across species and models to establish ageing interventions that are evolutionary conserved.
I now lead a research group at the University of Kent, studying how interactions between microbes and their host alter ageing – a fascinating topic that keeps on gaining momentum and holds promise for finding new ways to improve age-related health.
What is your role at the BSRA and what does it involve?
I am organising our annual scientific meeting ‘Nutrition and the Biology of Ageing’ in September 2022, co-hosted with the Biochemical Society. We will bring together researchers from academia and industry studying the biology of aging, metabolism and nutrition and working towards interventions that promote healthy ageing. I think this will be a fantastic face-to-face meeting connecting researchers at different career stages and from different disciplines.
Why do you think the work of the society is so important?
Ageing populations and the associated costs are one of the main challenges facing societies globally. We are now at a crucial time point: scientific progress, changes in public perception and the interest of policymakers provide an opportunity to implement interventions that improve the way we age. It is critical that different sectors come together to ensure this opportunity is not lost. The BSRA plays an important role in working with academia, industry, policy makers and stakeholders to address this major societal challenge.
Is there anything interesting you’d like to share about yourself?
Twice a week I head of to my local leisure centre to teach fitness classes. I absolutely love connecting with my local community in this way! Creating a safe environment for people of all ages and fitness levels to work out and have fun together is fantastic. Seeing people coming back, getting fitter and feeling empowered is so rewarding. It does me really well to blast loud music through the speakers and be really physical for a couple of hours – talk about switching off work!