A new cancer research group is to be set up at Dundee University after a leading scientist was awarded a £1.35 million grant.
French scientist, Dr Constance Alabert, 36, based at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, was granted a Career Development Fellowship by Cancer Research UK.
The funding will enable her to launch research into how mechanisms used to maintain the identity and function of skin cells during and after cell division affect cancer growth.
Specifically, it is known that epigenetic ‘tags’ are placed on DNA cells to control whether genes are turned off or on, and it is hoped research will be able to determine how changes to these tags impact tumour development.
Dr Alabert said: “We know that epigenetic ‘tags’ are important in controlling when cells grow and divide.
“But little is known about how these ‘tags’ are replaced after cell division or about the role – if any – this ‘replacing’ plays in tumour development.
“By understanding the mechanisms that replace these tags, we are hopeful we can identify new players in tumour development that have the potential to lead to new therapies.”
The fellowships are an important source of funding for talented scientists to progress with independent studies and launch their own research groups.
She said of the funding: “It’s a great honour to have been awarded this fellowship from Cancer Research UK.
“Throughout my career the aim of my research has been to understand how cells work at a very fundamental level, so applying my work to help find out more about cancer brings a very human aspect to my research which is fantastic motivation for me.”
Karen Noble, Cancer Research UK’s head of training and fellowships, added:
“Our fellows make crucial discoveries that increase our fundamental understanding of cancer and help develop innovative new cancer medicines, tests and treatments.”