Dr Susan John
The human body is constantly facing a barrage of insults from environmental or microbial challenges and yet, for the most part, we are unaware of these, because the immune cells in our body recognise and communicate these external challenges to the inside of the cell, resulting in appropriate behavioural changes of the cell to effectively eradicate the insult. But occasionally, this very effective, defence mechanism breaks down due to age-related weaknesses or ill-health. Such a breakdown in communication within the cell is highly dangerous and can result in diseases such as cancer, inflammation or autoimmune disorders. Therefore, understanding the players in the cell that facilitate and maintain normal communication networks, will provide us with a better understanding of how to tackle the problem when things go wrong.
Our research is focused on understanding what networks operate inside the cell to communicate changes in the external environment to the inside of the cell, and which protein components act as checkpoints to control the duration and amplitude of these communication circuits. In the long-term, these studies may help to identify potential drug targets that could be used to eradicate or curtail rogue cells in disease.