• School of Life & Health Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle

      B4 7ET Birmingham

      United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

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    Personal profile

    Contact Details

    Email: f.chan2@aston.ac.uk

    Telephone: +441212044200

    Extension (Aston Internal): 4200

    Biography

    I am originally from a small town in West Sumatera, Indonesia, called Padang (we are most famous for our beef curry, called rendang). Growing up, I have always been fascinated by chemistry and biology. When most of my undergraduate friends detested biochemistry, I have always found the subject the most interesting; and when I started taking neuroscience classes, I found the challenge of the subject particularly refreshing. I am blessed to be able to combine my love of these two subjects in my current academic career. 

    I first did my PhD in Neuroscience at Newcastle University; with Prof. Mark Cunningham and Prof. Doug Turnbull. In essence, this was the perfect project for me and my first foray into neuroenergetics. I was trained as an in vitro brain slice electrophysiologist; looking at metabolism in a severe epilepsy condition called mitochondrial epilepsy. I developed the first ever brain slice model of mitochondrial epilepsy and found the importance of glutamine metabolism in this disease condition. Research is continuing at Newcastle on mitochondrial epilepsy to follow-up on my findings.

    I then moved to Brown University in the USA to undertake my postdoctoral training with Dr. Judy Liu. In my postdoctoral training, I looked at metabolism in a variety of pediatric focal epilepsy conditions; including focal cortical dysplasia, tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), and Rasmussen's encephalitis. Subsequently, I found the involvement of lysine metabolism in TSC; which led to me being awarded the very-first TSC Alliance - NIH DSC Young Investigator Award

    Since September 2022, I have joined Aston Pharmacy School to establish my independent research group; continuing to examine metabolism in epilepsy. I am fortunate to pursue the research career of my dream and hope to make a significant difference to the lives of patients with metabolic epilepsies; many of whom continue to live with severe incurable epilepsy. I continue working with great patient advocacy organizations and charities (such as the TSC Alliance and TS Association) as well as clinical collaborators and industry partners to achieve this goal. I am always open to hearing about ideas and potential collaborations on metabolism in epilepsy - so please reach out!

    Finally, I am passionate about providing inclusive and compassionate mentoring to my trainees. I hope I can be a role model for future South-East Asian trainees like myself to show them that it is possible to pursue your dream. I am always happy to chat with trainees from all walks of life about pursuing a career in neuroscience research. Please reach out!

    Research Interests

    My main research interest is in neuroenergetics - what metabolic pathways and substrates drive our brain activity. To study this, I have focused on understanding metabolism in epilepsy.

    Epilepsy presents as high-frequency repetitive firing of the neurons; which imposes considerable energetic demand on the brain; yet very little is known about what metabolic pathway sustain this incredibly challenging network activity. Additionally, some epilepsies have metabolic causes; some of which I have/currently studies; including mitochondrial epilepsy (in mitochondrial diseases like MELAS or MERRF) and mTORopathies like tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). By understanding these various metabolic epilepsies, I hope to comprehensively understand the metabolic and mitochondrial aspect of epilepsy. Finally, I hope to leverage our understanding of metabolism in epilepsy to curate new targeted therapies for epilepsy using various approaches like pharmacological, genetic, or dietary interventions.

    Qualifications

    2008-2011: Bachelor in Medical Sciences, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

    2011-2012: Masters by Research (M.Res) in Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

    2012-2017: PhD in Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

    Employment

    2012-2017: Practical demonstrator and seminar leader, Newcastle University, School of Biomedical Sciences and School of Biology, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

    2017-2022: Postdoctoral research associate, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, United States of America

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