Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Margarete Heck

Personal Chair in Cell Biology and Genetics

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Phone: 0131 242 6694

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Analysis of the Structure and Activity of Invadolysin Using Invadolysin as a Paradigm to Identify Additional Novel Essential Proteases

Education / Academic qualification

2006, University of Edinburgh, College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine
Wellcome Trust University Award Fellow
1996, University of Edinburgh, College of Science & Engineering
Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow
1992, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Assistant Professor
1988, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Dept of Embryology
Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow
1983Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
1981, European Molecular Biology Laboratory Heidelberg
Fulbright-Hays Fellow
1977Bachelor of Arts, SUNY, College of Arts & Sciences, Plattsburgh NY

Biography

Born in Munich, but raised in upstate New York, I trained at SUNY Plattsburgh, EMBL Heidelberg, and Johns Hopkins University.  Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institution, and an assistant professorship at Johns Hopkins, I moved with my family to the University of Edinburgh where I have been an independent investigator since 1996.  I currently lead a research group using Drosophila and vertebrate models (zebrafish, mouse, and cultured cell systems) to identify and analyse essential, conserved proteins that link the cell cycle with metabolism.  Much of my lab’s research is focused on elucidating the mechanism of action of invadolysin, a novel metalloprotease that links mitosis with cell migration, and is provocatively localized to the surface of intracellular lipid droplets.  Additional studies in my lab are focused on understanding Poly, another novel essential protein that plays a crucial conserved role in mediating insulin signaling.

I currently manage an active research lab consisting of a mixture of postdoctoral fellows and PhD students, with additional summer, miniproject, honours students, and visitors.  In addition to this challenge, I am also highly involved in postgraduate matters at the University of Edinburgh.  I was Programme Director of the MSc by Research in the Biomedical Sciences, and Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust 4-Yr PhD Programme in “The Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease” for many years.  I am currently Director of Postgraduate Studies for the Deanery of Clinical Sciences.  I am deeply committed to pursuing a high quality research programme while also furthering the education and training of enthusiastic junior scientists.

My research in a nutshell

A common thread throughout my scientific career has been the desire to understand the inner workings of the cell, with particular focus on the architectural organization of the genome, and its impact on function within the interphase nucleus and the mitotic chromosome.  I have used Drosophila as a model organism, a genetically tractable system amenable to cytological analysis, in my research group since 1992.  In our research, it has been important to exploit cellular, molecular, genetic, and developmental approaches.  We have extended our analyses to further examine the function in vertebrate cells (zebrafish, and cultured cell systems) of the novel, essential genes we have identified.  Much of our future research will be focused on elucidating the mechanism of action of invadolysin, a conserved metalloprotease we have identified that links mitosis with cell migration, and is, provocatively, localized to the surface of intracellular lipid droplets.  Additional studies in the lab are focused on understanding another conserved protein, Poly, identified in my laboratory, that plays a crucial role in mediating insulin signaling.  Importantly, both of these genes are conserved amongst metazoan species.  Therefore utilizing a tractable genetic model will shed much light on the function of these genes in higher eukaryotes.

 

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