Robin Carrell is a medical researcher from New Zealand whose studies, defined and named the serpins, a family of proteins that control key functions in life. With colleagues, he elucidated the structure of more than 20 serpins and demonstrated how their ability to change their shape modifies their function. He showed how this enables serpins to modulate cellular functions, most notably in the blood, including control of coagulation, carriage of hormones and regulation of blood pressure.
He also demonstrated how mutations in serpins that affect their ability to change shape predispose humans to a range of diseases, including emphysema, thrombosis, and hypertension. The demonstration that the same mutations in a brain-specific serpin caused neurodegeneration has opened new insights into the molecular pathology of the late-onset dementias.
Robin’s earlier work in Christchurch, New Zealand, on the stabilisation of the haemoglobin molecule led to the cofounding in 1985 of biotechnology company Canterbury Scientific. A year later, he won the Hector Medal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, having been elected a Fellow (FRSNZ) in 1980.
Emeritus Professor of Haematology, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
Conformational disease dementia,
Hormone carriage and release thyroxine corticosteroids and angiotensinogen,
Protein structure serpins,
Thrombosis alpha1anritrypsin emphysema cirrhosis hypertension and pre-eclampsia