Dr. Campbell Gourlay is a Reader in the School of Biosciences and the current Director of Graduate Studies. He began his career at The John Innes Centre in 1996 where he completed a PhD in plant development, studying the genetic control of leaf development. Following this he began to work with budding yeast as a model eukaryote in the lab of Prof. Kathryn Ayscough, where he investigated the role of actin in the process of endocytosis. During this time he discovered a link between actin, the regulation of mitochondrial function and the control of ageing and apoptosis. This led to his involvement in the emerging field of yeast apoptosis, which has popularised the novel concept that unicellular organisms possess the ability to undergo programmed cell death as an altruistic act for the betterment of a population. He established his own research group with the aid of Wellcome Trust Value in People Award and a Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship in 2006. He is a founding member of the Kent Fungal Group (KFG) which represents one of the largest collections of yeast research groups in the UK (http://www.kentfungalgroup.com/)
Recent and current funding from the BBSRC, EPSRC, Wellcome Trust, FWF (Austrian Science Foundation), Kent Cancer Trust, Scottish MND Society and the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) supports a range of projects. The group uses yeast, human cell culture and whole animal models within a range of research activities. Current research projects include:
- The regulation of mitochondrial health and production of reactive oxygen species
- The role of translational accuracy in healthy ageing and apoptosis
- Roles for the actin cytoskeleton in regulating stress response mechanisms
- Yeast as a model for motor neuron disease
- Using yeast to understand the development of multi-drug resistance
- The role of mitochondrial function in the pathogenicity of Candida albicans
- The detection and management of biofilms on airway management devices
Dr. Gourlay has established solid foundations within the East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) and works within a multi-disciplinary team to tackle fungal colonisation of medical devices, including voice prostheses and tracheostomy tubing. These studies have led to the implementation of fully ratified NHS treatment guidelines for the management of fungal growth on voice prosthesis and have been adopted throughout the UK as well as being implemented overseas.
MSc-R projects available for 2021
Investigating metabolic dysfunction as a driver of Motor Neuron Disease (Cell biology)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND) is a devastating and incurable disease. Significant research efforts have increased our understanding of the cellular dysfunction that underpins ALS pathology, but we have much to learn. Recent findings suggest that metabolic defects play an important role in the onset and progression of ALS, offering the tantalising prospect of new avenues to therapy. We have developed a rapid high throughput yeast model of ALS that enables us to probe the metabolic nature of cellular toxicity associated with defects in the protein Superoxide dismutase 1 (Sod1). Mutations in Sod1 lead to familial ALS and are also linked to sporadic forms of the disease. The project will establish the metabolic defects associated with Sod1 mutations found in ALS patients. The outcomes of this research will lead to a significant increase in our understanding of the metabolic dysfunction associated with ALS.
The roles of RAS in controlling cell fate – a yeast model of oncogenic potential (cell biology)
RAS proteins are small GTPases that couple cell signals to fate. Mutations in Ras that cause a loss of its regulation are found in around 30% of all human cancers. The role of RAS as an oncogene can be attributed to it being a master regulator of proliferation and viability, however the processes by which RAS controls cell fate are not fully understood. In this MSc project you will investigate the consequences of altering RAS activity in a yeast model system to help understand its oncogenic potential. The project will involve the use of a number of techniques such as advanced live cell imaging techniques, gene editing technology, flow cytometry and cell culture.