Ronald Hay is a molecular biologist who researches the role of a family of proteins called ubiquitins in the regulation of cellular processes. He established that a protein known as SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifier) is important for the regulation of chemical activity within cells and has described several accepted models of how it acts. SUMO also plays a role in the action of chemotherapy drugs.
Through his research, Ron discovered that arsenic helps SUMO molecules to stick to proteins involved in the development of acute promyelocytic leukaemia. An enzyme that is attracted to SUMO then breaks down the cancer-causing proteins. This discovery could lead to the development of targeted drugs for cancer with fewer side effects.
Ron is now working to establish how SUMO responds to chemotherapy drugs, DNA damaging chemicals and cell signalling proteins. He is a member of EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and is also a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Biophysics and structural biology, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
Health and human sciences
Ubiquitin-proteasome system, SUMOylation, DNA damage, Proteomics, Cancer therapy, Cellular stress responses