Terence Rabbitts is a molecular biologist whose examination of the organisation and rearrangement of human genes has helped to shape our understanding of immunity and cancer. Terence determined the genetic basis of human antibody diversity, which enables the immune system to fight countless pathogens, and revealed genetic translocations that cause some cancers.
Antibodies are encoded by few genes relative to the myriad of invaders they must recognise and respond to. Terence threw light on this paradox by discovering genetic rearrangements that increase antibody variability. He mapped and characterised antibody genes, and identified the genetic signals that lead to the production of antibodies with different basic functions.
Terence also identified families of genes that mediate cancer-causing chromosomal translocations in B-cell and T-cell leukaemias, the first chromosomal translocation gene fusion in a solid tumour. He continues to apply his expertise in the field of leukaemia and lymphoma research to develop specific therapies. Additionally, Terence has been instrumental in developing widely used biotechnologies, including cDNA cloning, chimaeric antibodies and intracellular single domain antibodies.
Interest and expertise
Chromosomal translocations, Antibodies, Cancer genetics