Whether a cell dies or not has profound consequences on health. For instance, if programmed cell death (apoptosis) is not correctly executed in response to damage signals it can lead to cancer. Blocks in the apoptotic pathway may trigger a permanent arrest instead (senescence), which contributes to cancer through the secretion of cytokines and interleukins. Understanding these cell fate decisions is essential to ensure the process of cell death proceeds correctly and damaged and transformed cells are eliminated. This project will study the mechanism by which an apoptotic block contributes to senescence using both cell biology and structural biology techniques, in order to develop novel therapeutic strategies for cancer. This project will determine how key pathways can be modulated to selectively induce apoptosis instead of senescence, which has a strong clinical relevance, and to visualise for the first time the key multi-protein complexes that determine cell fate decisions by Cryo-electron microscopy.
Academic entry requirements: UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.