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Dr Luke Whiley, an Early Career Researcher based at Imperial College London is awarded £1,500 to fund his attendance at a specialist training course in Utrecht.

Portrait of Luke Whiley beside text reading 'ECR Grant Winner: Dr Luke Whiley'.
Congratulations to Dr Luke Whiley who is today announced as the first winner of DPUK’s new ECR grant scheme.

The course focuses on the biological signs of chronic diseases and associated external factors. Building on his expertise in analytical chemistry, it supports Luke in developing new skills. He plans to take these forward in his current research into the link between gut and brain health, and his applications for independent research fellowships.

On receipt of his award, Luke says: ‘I am very excited to be receiving the award and attending the training course. DPUK has given me a fantastic opportunity to develop key interdisciplinary skills that without the grant I would not be able to do. I think it is critical for Early Career Researchers to continuously develop new techniques for their research. It gives me great pride to receive the award and I aim to make the most of the opportunity.’

Support for work with population data

Luke is a postdoctoral researcher who is interested in molecular level interactions between the gut and the brain. It is a new area of research in brain health and one which is important to be able to quantify through in-depth and focused studies of population data.


‘I’m planning to use the DPUK Data Portal along with my own data in my investigations into the molecular mechanisms which underpin and influence the development of dementia.

Developing in-depth knowledge of data analysis pipelines and study design from the field of molecular population studies – a new area for me – is important to my future research goals as I look to translate my existing skills in molecular analysis into population research within large-scale dementia cohorts and progress in an independent research career.’

 - Luke Whiley

One of the judges commented: ‘Studies of gut-brain interaction are novel, timely and increasingly the focus of research for a number of groups. There is strong evidence to suggest a link between the [gut] microbiome and Parkinson’s Disease, and the same may also be true for other dementias.’

Luke’s ECR grant will provide essential training allowing him to develop key skills in analysing ‘big’ datasets.

Why small awards are important

Bigger is not always better when it comes to grant funding; junior scientists need to have the track record that proves their eligibility for more significant funding awards. By making awards of up to £5k available, DPUK is giving junior scientists the chance to prove themselves as independent researchers in their own right. DPUK’s ECR grants are open to any Early Career Researcher, based anywhere in the world.