An “inspirational” scientist who transformed our understanding of a rare genetic disease has died.
Rosaleen (Roz) Anderson was born in Somerset in September 1962 and was educated at Congleton Grammar School for Girls (1974-81) before going on to study chemistry at Newcastle University (1981-84). After a PhD in organic chemistry, also at Newcastle (1984-87), she joined the University of Sunderland on a postdoctoral fellowship. She was to remain there for the rest of her career, being promoted to lecturer in chemistry (1990), senior lecturer (1993), programme leader (2003) and eventually professor in pharmaceutical chemistry (2008).
Throughout this time, Professor Anderson focused on finding solutions to medicinal problems and the translation of laboratory results into clinical use. She did important research on Alzheimer’s disease, psoriasis and cancer, but her central concern was the rare genetic disorder cystinosis – a disease that has received little attention from the pharmaceutical industry. She worked on a project funded by the US charity, the Cystinosis Research Network, exploring protein changes in cystinotic cells. Another, funded by the Cystinosis Foundation UK, looked at developing cysteamine prodrugs, which metabolise into a pharmacologically active form within the body.
Roy Forsyth, chair of the Cystinosis Foundation, described Professor Anderson as “a consummate professional” with whom it was “truly inspiring to work”. “She [was] able to communicate her complex research not only to her peers but to the parents of children with this condition with ease. She [made] a point of attending patient conferences and [took] time to speak to the cystinosis community, purely out of compassion,” he said. “We count our blessings that someone like Roz has dedicated so much of her life to our cause.”
Other important research by Professor Anderson was devoted to designing and evaluating agents for detecting bacteria in clinical, food and environmental samples; creating novel inhibitors for specific bacteria; and investigating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and new ways of eliminating them. Tony Alabaster, academic dean in Sunderland’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, called Professor Anderson “one of the most inspirational research scientists I have ever worked alongside”, who had made an impact not only on colleagues and students but on “many distinguished researchers across the world”.
A black belt in karate who three times completed the Great North Run half-marathon for charity, Professor Anderson received a Women in the North Award in the STEM category in 2016. She died of cancer on 9 June 2018 and is survived by her husband Les, a son and a daughter.