Regulation of apoptosis-induced compensatory cell proliferation and its implications for cancer and tissue regeneration

   School of Biosciences

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  Dr Yun Fan  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In multi-cellular organisms, coordinated cell death (e.g. apoptosis) and cell replacement is critical for tissue recovery in response to stress or damage. Although there is not much known about this process at the cellular and molecular level, recent studies including ours have discovered that apoptotic cells can actively induce compensatory proliferation of surrounding cells through a non-apoptotic function of caspases, a family of cysteine-proteases that normally execute apoptosis. This research aims to dissect the molecular anatomy of compensatory cell proliferation following activation of apoptosis. By taking advantages of Drosophila as a model organism, we have developed unique assays to systematically identify and characterize regulators of compensatory cell proliferation. Because apoptosis-induced compensatory cell proliferation has been observed in tissue regeneration and tumorigenesis in multiple organisms including mammals, identification of its underlying regulatory mechanisms in Drosophila will significantly impact our understanding of its physiological role in tissue repair as well as its pathological role in multiple human diseases including cancer.

State-of-the-art technologies in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Advanced Microscopy Imaging and Drosophila Genetics are employed in this research.


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Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.

The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC MIBTP, PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are available to both UK nationals and overseas students. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is typically in early January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also typically in early January each year.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We have a thriving community of international PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students able to find their own funding or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship, Islamic Development Bank). Applications to our competitive funding are normally closed in early January each year.

The postgraduate funding database provides further information on funding opportunities (e.g. MIBTP) available at:


1) Farrell L, Puig-Barbe A, Haque MI, Amcheslavsky A, Yu M, Bergmann A and Fan Y. Actin remodeling mediates ROS production and JNK activation to drive apoptosis-induced proliferation. PLoS Genetics 18(12): e1010533.
2) Fan Y.*, Wang S., Hernandez J., Yenigun V.B., Hertlein G., Fogarty C.E., Lindblad J.L. and Bergmann A.* (2014) A model for identification of genes involved in apoptosis-induced proliferation in Drosophila. PLoS Genetics 10(1): e1004131. (*corresponding authors)
3) Fan, Y., and Bergmann, A. (2008) Distinct mechanisms of apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation in proliferating and differentiating tissues in the Drosophila eye. Dev Cell 14, 399-410.

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