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    Interests

    I carried out my PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Peter Gierschik in the German Cancer Research Centre and the University of Ulm in Germany working on G protein beta gamma subunit regulation of phospholipase C beta 2. I identified key amino acids in the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain of PLCbeta2 that were required for beta gamma subunit activation.

    I was a postdoctoral fellow in Medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston working in the lab of Prof. Morris White. My focus was the role of insulin receptor substrate-2 (IRS2) in brain development. Together with Dr. Markus Schubert, we identified that mice lacking Irs2 had smaller brains due to defects in neuronal proliferation early in development.

    I then returned to Europe to work in the lab of Dr. Brian Hemmings at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel. My focus was the inhibitor of PKB/Akt activation called carboxyl-terminal modulator protein (CTMP) and its role in vitro and in vivo. We used knockout approaches to evaluate the role of CTMP1 and CMTP2 in Akt signalling. Various aspects of PKB/Akt signalling in cancer and diabetes were also investigated during my time at the FMI.

    In 2003 I returned to Dublin to establish my own research group until the guidance of Prof. Hugh Brady and Prof. Catherine Godson at the Mater Hospital, University College Dublin. The overall focus of the group in UCD was diabetic nephropathy (DN), and I specifically adressed the role of PKB/Akt and proteins such as Gremlin, a BMP antagoinst, in mouse models of DN. We relocated to the UCD Conway Institute in August 2003 as part of the UCD Diabetes Research Centre working with colleagues on various aspects of diabetic nephropathy including the role of Irs2 in kidney development, connective tissue growth factor activation in diabetic kidney and in vivo mouse models of diabetic kidney disease.

    In September 2009 I relocated to Centre for Vision and Vascular Science (now Wellcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, WWIEM) at Queen's University Belfast where I was appointed as Lecturer. I have trained 14 PhD students and 5 Masters students to date, and hosted over 60 undergraduates in my laboratory here in WWIEM. I am active in linking research and teaching activities, and was appointed as Associate Director of Undergraduate Education in our centre in 2016. 

    Research Statement

    I am interested in the molecular pathogenesis of diabetes-related complications in the kidney and other organs. We employ a combined molecular cell biology/mouse knockout approach to elucidating the cell signalling pathways involved in driving disease pathogenesis. My group has published extensively on the role of Gremlin1 in kidney fibrosis over the past 8 years, and we have recently extended these studies into the cancer field where we have identified Grem1 as a prognostic marker of human cancers. We have employed a drug discovery approach to identify small molecule inhibitors of Grem1 as potential novel therapeutics for the treatment of kidney fibrosis, cancer and other human diseases. I have ongoing collaborations with colleagues in UCD Dublin (Prof. John Crean, Prof. Finian Martin), UMC Utrecht (Prof. Roel Goldschmeding) and Harvard Medical School (Prof. Morris White). 

     

    Teaching

     

    I teach medical, dentistry and biomedical science students at all stages during their degrees. Tutorials and lectures on basic elements of cell biology, tissue biology and pathology, and medical case studies are given. I am module co-coordinator for a Year 1 medical module called Prinicples of Disease and Treatment1. I am also a Personal Portfolio tutor for first and second year medical students. My laboratory hosts undergraduate B. Med. Sci and MSc. students for research projects. I also contribute to postgraduate teaching and practical skills courses throughout the year. I have an active outreach portfolio and have visited several schools in Belfast to promote careers in science and medicine. I have active links with Diabetes UK and have met with patient research focus groups to discuss our research and it's potential impact for patients. As Associate Director of Undergraduate Education here in our centre, I coordinate all teaching requests for other academic staff, and try to match requests to people's expertise and teaching requirements. I have spent time in the China Queen's College in Shenyang, China teaching Year 2 and 3 Pharmaceutical Science students, and have also visited MBRU Medical University in Dubai regularly to teach and discuss with academic colleagues.

    Regular Teaching Activity

    MED1013 Year 1 Medicine: Prinicples of Disease and Treatment 1 (Module Co-Coordinator)

    MED1018 Year 1 Medicine Personal Development Portfolios

    DEN2023 Year 2 Dentistry Pharmacology of Drugs and the Endocrine System 

    MED2014 Year 2 Medicine: Principles of Disease Treatment2

    MED2011 Year 2 Medicine Integrated Case-Based Assessment

    BMS2015 Year 2 Biomedical Science Molecular Cell Biology

    BMS3024 Year 3 Biomedical Science Molecular Basis of Disease

    SCM8100 MSc in Experimental Medicine 

    SCM7046 MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Science

     

    Willingness to take PhD students

    Yes

    PhD projects

    My team offers an ideal environment for students interested in signal transduction and molecular cell biology, as well as mouse models of disease and drug discovery targeting Grem1 and other proteins involved in human disease.

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    Frequent Journals

    • Journal of Biological Chemistry

      ISSNs: 0021-9258

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1083-351X

      American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Inc.

      Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 4.04 SJR 2.672 SNIP 1.085

      Journal

    • Cellular Signalling

      ISSNs: 0898-6568

      Elsevier Inc.

      Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 3.91 SJR 1.799 SNIP 1.07

      Journal

    • PLoS One

      ISSNs: 1932-6203

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1932-6203

      Public Library of Science

      Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 3.01 SJR 1.164 SNIP 1.111

      Journal

    • FEBS journal

      ISSNs: 1742-464X, 0014-2956

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1742-4658

      Wiley-Blackwell

      Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 3.86 SJR 2.058 SNIP 1.013

      Journal

    • Stem Cell Research & Therapy

      ISSNs: 1757-6512, 1873-5061

      BioMed Central

      Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 5.09 SJR 1.685 SNIP 1.266

      Journal

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    Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

    ID: 53123