Humbert - Cancer biology, cell polarity and tissue architecture

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Patrick HumbertProfessor Patrick Humbert

Professor of Cancer Biology, College of Science, Health and Engineering

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Research overview

Cell polarity, or asymmetry, is a fundamental property of all cells and is encoded by an evolutionarily conserved genetic program that coordinates the differential division of stem cells, the positioning of cells within an organ and ultimately the precise architecture of the organ. Disruption of this genetic program leads to the disorganization of tissue and can promote the first steps of cancer. Our laboratory is interested in how cell asymmetry and tissue organization can regulate cancer initiation, progression and metastasis with the ultimate aim to devise therapeutics to help tumours to “reorganize” themselves, thereby stopping the cancer’s growth and spread. In addition we are also interested in how the cell polarity genetic program may be involved in tissue regeneration as well as developmental processes such as blood cell production and function.

To drive this research, we have set up a multidisciplinary approach encompassing state of the art imaging, genetically-engineered mouse models and the use of powerful genetic and chemical screens.  We work closely with cancer clinicians, pathologists, immunologists, and at LIMS, the laboratories of Drosophila geneticist Dr Helena Richardson and crystallographer Dr Marc Kvansakul.

Research areas