Dunn School new recruit secures Wellcome Trust funding to understand ER-associated protein degradation

New Dunn School group leader Pedro Carvalho has secured Wellcome Trust funding for research into ER-associated protein degradation, in the April 2016 funding round.

Pedro’s project looks at how our body, at a sub-cellular level, is able to identify and degrade proteins that may cause disease such as atherosclerosis and cancer.

All cells in our body are highly compartmentalized by small membrane-bound structures or ‘organelles’, each with a unique identity and a specialized set of functions. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the largest of these organelles and carries out several essential functions. Pedro’s group is investigating how these functions depend on a process that degrades ER proteins because they are abnormal, are no longer needed or simply because they are present in the wrong place.

Pedro explains: “Unwanted proteins in the ER have dire consequences to cell health and may cause disease. My group is keen to understand the mechanism behind how the unwanted proteins are selected amongst the thousands present. We want to figure out which signals are involved and how these are decoded.”

Pedro joins the department in the summer of 2016 as the EP Abraham Professor of Cell Biology.