Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Dates: Oct 2011-Sep 2016
Summary: Mitochondria are often referred to as cellular powerhouses for their role in energy production. However, mitochondria are also required to kill cells through a process termed apoptosis. Apoptosis is essential during embryonic development and also serves an important role as we grow and age, by allowing our bodies to get rid of damaged, infected or excess cells. Other important forms of cell death exist besides apoptosis. My research focuses upon understanding how mitochondria regulate non-apoptotic cell death and how cells can survive these processes. Moreover, my research addresses the role of non-apoptotic cell death in health and disease.
Importantly, deregulated cell death is associated with many diseases; for example, cancer cells often inhibit cell death. Understanding how cancer cells block cell death has led to the development of a promising new class of anti-cancer drugs. Accordingly, results from my work should benefit society by facilitating the development of strategies to target cell death in disease. Beyond this, our results should provide new basic knowledge into fundamental cellular processes such as autophagy (a cellular detoxification process). This will have extensive impact within the scientific community and, likely, has numerous translational opportunities given the involvement of autophagy in various diseases. Finally, our development of tools to understand the role of mitochondria in cell death will have application in various other research areas. These include, but are not limited to, mitochondria based genetic disease and gene therapy.