Email: Dr. Brian E. Staveley
Principles of Cell Biology (BIOL2060)
Molecular and Developmental Biology (BIOL3530)
One of the most important decisions a cell makes during both developmental and pathological processes is the choice between continued survival and death. For the normal processes of life to occur, cell survival mechanisms must function to oppose cell death. Of special interest is the realization that some proto-oncogenes maintain the balance between cell death and cell survival and that the initiation of cancer may result from the loss of such fine control. Drosophila has become an ideal model organism in which to manipulate programmed cell death.
With this in mind, improvement in the standard "state of being", establishing an enhanced homeostasis, complete with a long and healthy life, would be our ultimate achievement, The objectives of my laboratory's research program involve four closely related goals. Firstly, my research program strives to understand the phenomenon of cell survival and the signaling mechanisms that prevent cell death. Secondly, I would like to develop a particular understanding of the subtlety of the cellular decisions that control and differentiate between cell survival and cell growth. Thirdly, as the akt kinase and it's target foxo are key to the above processes, I hope to identify and characterize additional components of the akt signaling pathway and to discover the extent of the biological consequences of these genes such as anti-starvation mechanisms. Fourthly, due to the fundamental importance of cell death mechanisms in neurodegeneration, we are developing models of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson and Huntington Disease and acting to counteract the consequences of cell death and degeneration.
The mechanisms that distinguish between cell death and cell survival and between aspects of cell growth, the increase in cell size and number, are of fundamental importance to many aspects of biology. The origins of many human diseases may be due to errors in these basic biological functions.