The prestigious Lister Institute Research Prize is awarded annually to three or four young researchers in the UK to support and nurture quality research in biomedical or related biological sciences. This year, two of the recipients are LMB group leaders: Melina Schuh, from the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, and M. Madan Babu, from the LMB’s Structural Studies Division.
The recipients will deliver their Lister Prize Lectures at the awards ceremony on Friday 5th September 2014.
Melina has been awarded a Lister Research Prize for her work on mammalian oocytes.
Her group is researching how aneuploidy arises in mammalian eggs. Defects in the egg are the most common cause of pregnancy loss and human aneuploidy conditions such as Down’s Syndrome. Most defects result from errors in chromosome segregation, when an egg develops out of the diploid progenitor cell called an oocyte. The long-term goal of Melina’s laboratory is to identify and analyse mechanisms that lead to abnormal eggs and pregnancy loss in mammals.
The work in Melina’s group addresses a problem that is of growing importance in our society. Fertility problems have become more prominent as many women in the Western world postpone childbearing. This has led to a steep increase in the number of in vitro fertilization treatments (IVF). Eggs derived for IVF are frequently abnormal and cannot develop into viable embryos upon fertilisation. To improve fertility treatments it is essential to have a better understanding of the mechanisms that govern accurate progression through meiosis. The Lister Institute Research Prize will help the Schuh group to build up knowledge about human oocyte meiosis, which is crucial to improve methods for diagnosing and treating causes of infertility in the future.
Madan’s Lister Research Prize has been awarded for his work on dynamics of tRNA abundance and the regulation of protein expression levels.
Madan’s lab is interested in understanding regulation in cellular systems at different levels of complexity, from molecular to genome level with the aim of deciphering the molecular basis for human disease manifestation. Many human diseases develop when regulatory processes fail. At the molecular level, the group study regulatory proteins involved in protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid and protein-small molecule interactions to understand the mechanisms involved. At the genome level they investigate the impact of mutations on genome and transcriptome evolution, and why certain mutations cause disease. Understanding the design principles of regulation can lead to biotechnology developments and medical applications.
Madan’s group is currently investigating regulatory networks and intrinsically disordered protein regions to understand how they achieve regulation and influence genome evolution. The research funded by the Lister Institute Research Prize will help his group to understand the role of tRNA as a novel layer of regulatory control.