The research in my laboratory addresses how cells respond to their environment. In particular, we focus on signalling pathways that are regulated by stresses that include physical injury, changes in oxygen levels or temperature, radiation and infection or disease. These stress-induced pathways mitigate the effects of stress in order to maintain cell function. They predominantly do this by regulating the expression of genes in the cell nucleus that promote a protective response. However, high levels of stress can result in cell death and checkpoints exist to determine whether a cell can be repaired or whether it dies. Impairment of these checkpoints or disruption of stress signaling pathways can lead to developmental abnormities and diseases such as cancer, diabetes and neurodegeneration. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that stress-response pathways play a major role in controlling ageing and lifespan.
Current projects include (1) understanding how mitochondria communicate with the nucleus in response to reactive oxygen species and how this impacts on ageing, (2) elucidating mechanisms governing the regulation of TOR, a central mediator of cell fate, and (3) determining the cellular function of an integrator of stress signaling in neurones that is implicated in stroke and neurodegenerative disease.
I am a Senior Lecturer and research group leader in the Faculty of Life Sciences. I obtained a B.Sc (Hons) in Biochemistry and a Ph.D in Molecular Biology from the University of Sheffield. I performed my post-doctoral research in the USA in the laboratory of Professor Roger Davis at UMASS Medical Center. I was appointed as a Research Assistant Professor at UMASS Medical Center in 1997 and moved to the University of Manchester as a lecturer in 2000. I was awarded a Lister Institute Jenner Research Fellowship in 2001 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2010. I am currently Postgraduate Research Director for the School of Biological Sciences.