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Simon Wilkinson studied at University of Edinburgh from 1996, gaining a 1st class degree in Biochemistry. In late 2000, he moved to the Institute of Cancer Research in London, to study for his doctorate in the Cancer Research UK Tumour Cell Signalling Unit, under the supervision of Prof. Chris Marshall. His work here investigated the different signalling requirements of diverse tumour cell types for motility and invasion. In the course of this work he became very interested in the different mechanisms by which tumour cells engage protein kinase signalling pathways.

In 2005, Simon joined the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research as a postdoctoral scientist. Here, working with Prof. Kevin Ryan, he became interested in autophagy in cancer and worked on the identification of an ‘autophagy kinome’ - a set of protein kinases that engaged various different forms of autophagy. In 2010, Simon moved to Edinburgh to work with Prof. Margaret Frame looking at the interplay between autophagy and cell signalling, focussing on Src kinase. In 2012, he was awarded a prestigious Career Development Fellowship from Cancer Research UK in order to establish his own laboratory in Edinburgh. His lab now studies the interplay between intracellular membrane dynamics - particularly membrane modification by ubiquitin-like proteins and the autophagy pathway - and cell signalling during cancer development and treatment, focussing on processes such as control of gene expression, cellular dedifferentiation and therapy-induced senescence.

Research Interests

Autophagy is an evolutionarily-conserved mechanism by which cells remove old proteins and organelles by transporting them to the lysosome (in effect, a cellular garbage disposal facility). The autophagy pathway also acts as a hub for control of cell fate by degrading specific signalling and structural proteins of the cell. These actions are important for the progression of a number of cancers. We use protein-protein interaction screens, imaging techniques and transgenic models to unpick the molecular events set in train by autophagy within pre-cancerous and cancerous cells. Thusly we gain understanding of new cellular processes that could be targeted for future cancer therapies.


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