Michael Waterfield developed methods of protein microsequencing, which he used to decipher the role of key regulatory proteins that are subverted in cancer. His most important contribution was to show that oncogenes can be derived from genes that are involved in normal growth control. He reported the first purification and sequence of platelet-derived growth factor and its homology with the transforming protein of simian sarcoma virus.
This was the first time that the function of an oncogene was deduced, and led to the concept that oncogenic viruses can transform by inappropriate expression of a growth factor. He subsequently reported the purification of the epidermal growth factor receptor and its virtual identity to the v-erbB protein of avian erythroblastosis virus.
These studies introduced the concept that receptors lacking growth factor-binding domains can stimulate abnormal growth with a continuous ligand-independent signal, and represented the second functional connection of an oncogene with normal growth control. He next studied the downstream receptor pathways and PI 3-kinase and cofounded the biotech company Piramed, which developed inhibitors for cancer therapy.
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
Basic cancer research, Cancer drug discovery, Biotechnology
For his exceptional skill in protein biochemistry which have transformed our understanding of signal transduction, and the subversion of cellular signalling pathways in cancer.