My research interests center on regulation of messenger RNA (mRNA) function, particularly in the context of cytoplasmic mRNA bodies termed stress granules and P-bodies. These biomolecular condensates are implicated in stress responses by reprogramming of the a cell's transcriptome, as well as in the alteration of stress-responsive signaling pathways due to kinase sequestration. Mutations that dysregulate stress granule or P-body assembly are also linked to pathogenic mechanisms of cancer and various neurodegenerative disease. I obtained my PhD in Ian Stansfield’s lab in 2006, at the University of Aberdeen, and completed a post-doc with Roy Parker in 2013. My lab at Arizona opened in 2014.
Various types of cancer exhibit an aberrant, and constitutive presence of stress granules. It is thought this may help cancers survive stressful and normally apoptosis-inducing environments by re-programming translation of the transcriptome, and downregulating pro-apoptotic cell signaling pathways. We are exploring the potential role of P-bodies in a similar context. Finally, numerous chemo-therapies are known to induce stress granules and P-bodies, with evidence suggesting that stress granules and P-bodies may thus affect chemo-therapeutic efficacy.