Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health



How chemical signals allow cells to co-ordinate, communicate and adapt to changes

Nerve cross sectionWhat is signalling?

We study the proteins that control communication within and between cells. They make up the signalling pathways that regulate how cells develop and respond to their environment, and are critical for ensuring the lifelong health and wellbeing of an individual.

A common theme in all pathways is that key information is carried into the cell by molecules called lipids, which interact with various enzymes, each regulating different pathways.

A major focus of our research is the activity of the PI3 Kinase enzymes, critical for a number of cellular functions, including movement, growth and survival.

PeyersWhy is it important?

One of the keys to understanding lifelong health is to understand the signalling pathways that operate inside cells and govern key fate decisions such as cell death, cell survival, cell division or cell senescence.

Ageing results in part from the imbalance between cellular damage, accrued throughout life, and the progressive decline in stress response and repair pathways.

Older people have reduced ability to fight infection, partly due to a decline in neutrophil migration to sites of infection, and activation of neutrophils at inappropriate locations that damages otherwise healthy cells, resulting in disease.

PurkinjeWhat is our research?

We are studying a number of pathways, including how neurons survive following damage, the pathways activated to protect the cell against the presence of toxic chemicals and the pathways triggered in response to environmental stress.

For cells to grow there must be both available nutrients and positive signals from proteins responding to environmental stimuli.

Suppression of a single protein, mTOR, which acts as a quality control step activity can result in increased lifespan through an unknown mechanism and we will attempt to reveal this.

Signalling Feature

Our 2016 Annual Research Report includes feature articles highligting some of the themes that each research programme is working on.
The Signalling feature "The Quiet Pathway", examines the importance of autophagy in recycling cell components and helping cells to survive.

"For many years regarded as merely a cell biological process, autophagy is now implicated in many diseases. Thanks to progress made in the Signalling research programme this year autophagy – the mechanism cells use to recycle unwanted or damaged components to create molecules they need – is now understood in greater detail than ever before..." continue reading


Personal achievements recognised as part of annual LabTalks event

Annual awards presented

LabTalks showcases science from across the Institute


Tumour cells’ drug addiction may be their downfall

Understanding drug resistance and cell signalling in cancer

Research may inform drug regimens for improved outcomes


Studying cellular fats reveals how to protect cells from the common cold

Three potential drug targets identified


Procollagen quality control at ER exit sites

Dr Shakib Omari

National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD),…


All kinds of JNK: How one kinase can be an oncogene, tumour suppressor and apoptotic mediator

Dr David Croucher

Group Leader - Network Biology, Garvan Institute of Medical…



Research Impact

13 Industrial Research Collaborations

7 CASE PhD Studentships

2 Formal Industrial Consultancy Agreements

4 New IP Licence Agreements

Case Studies

Group Leaders