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Two Dunn School groups awarded Wellcome Trust Discovery Awards

Many congratulations to Professor Ivan Ahel and Professor Omer Dushek for securing these prestigious 8-year programme grants.

Ivan Ahel is the E. P. Abraham Professor of Chemical Pathology. His group works on ADP-ribosylation, a post-translational modification synthesised by the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) family of enzymes. Through the modification of a variety of mediator/effector proteins, PARPs control cellular processes that are critical for genome stability, including DNA repair, regulation of chromatin structure, transcription, apoptosis and mitosis. They have therefore been implicated in a plethora of human diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative and autoimmune disorders. However, the proteins involved in these pathways and the mechanisms of regulation remain poorly understood. This funding will support an ambitious research programme using cell biology, biochemical and structural approaches to study ADP-ribosylation of serine residues.

Omer Dushek is Professor of Molecular Immunology. The Dushek group investigates the quantitative T cell response, at the interface between mathematics, physics and biology. T cells orchestrate immune responses crucial for the elimination of infections and cancers. They do this by initiating diverse responses when their T cell receptors (TCRs) recognise antigens sourced from these threats. It is now appreciated that many other, “accessory”, receptors shape these responses. The team will produce a large functional atlas for how accessory receptors impact T cell responses alone or in different combinations, and how these are integrated into TCR signalling. They hope to generate a model with predictive power that may be used to manipulate antigen sensitivity, discrimination, and adaptation to improve T cell-based therapies.

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Ivan Ahel group

The group of Ivan Ahel works on the pathways and protein functions underlying genome stability, and in particular the role of the post-translational protein modification ADP-ribosylation in this process.

Dushek group

The Dushek group researches how the immune system discriminates between normal and abnormal tissues, and harnessing this knowledge to develop new therapies.

Infection and Immunity

Several Dunn School groups use a range of approaches to investigate antigen presentation and immune regulation during health and disease and study the mechanisms that enable bacterial and viral pathogens to invade and proliferate inside their hosts.