Santocanale group

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Irish Association for Cancer Research (IACR)

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Open positions: highly motivated postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows are invited to contact

Lab members:

Prof. Corrado Santocanale
Corrado received his Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Milan, Italy under the co-supervision of Paolo Plevani and Giovanna Lucchini. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) in John Diffley’s laboratory, Corrado studied the mechanisms that control the initiation of DNA replication uncovering the “origin firing checkpoint”, a pathway that prevents the activation of late firing origins in response to the inhibition of replication elongation or DNA damage. In 1999 Corrado joined Pharmacia Upjohn (subsequently Pharmacia Corp. Pfizer and Nerviano Medical Sciences) to lead a preclinical drug discovery program aimed at discovering and developing CDC7 kinase inhibitors as anti-cancer therapeutics. In 2007 Corrado moved to Galway to start an academic lab in NUIG. The primary interest of the lab is studying the mechanisms of DNA replication in human cells and exploiting the results in this field for therapeutic purposes.

Dr. Michael Rainey
Michael obtained his B.Sc in biochemistry and M. Res. from the University of Manchester, UK. He then went on to complete a Ph.D. at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and the University of Glasgow where he investigated the role of DNA integrity checkpoint pathways in cell cycle regulation and cancer. In particular he was focused on studying the role of CHK2 in the response to DNA damage and replication stress using chicken DT40 cells as a model system. Michael’s interest in the DNA damage response pathways continued as a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Prof. Michael Kastan characterizing novel small molecule inhibitors of ATM kinase. Michael joined the Santocanale lab in 2008 and has continued to work in this laboratory as a Post-Doctoral researcher funded by several research grant awards from the Science Foundation Ireland and Breast Cancer Now. The main focus of Michael’s work currently is understanding how human breast cancer cells respond to CDC7 kinase inhibition and what the genetic determinants are that affect responses. Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome-wide screening approaches he aims to identify novel genetic interactions, that will advance our understanding of how CDC7 regulates DNA replication, and genetic vulnerabilities that can be exploited by therapeutic strategies.

Dr. Anja Goeder
Anja obtained her B.Sc and M.Sc in Biological Sciences at the University of Konstanz, Germany, her Bachelor and Master thesis both focused on the regulation of the DNA damage response in human primary and cancer cells. At the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz Anja obtained a PhD in Biology for her investigation into the modulation of the replication stress response by histone deacetylases. During this work Anja demonstrated that class I histone deacetylase activity maintains the integrity of cell cycle checkpoints upon replication stress by regulating the PR130-PP2A phosphatase complex. In 2019 Anja joined the Santocanale lab as a Post-doctoral researcher to investigate the kinase CDC7 and how its binding partners DBF4 and DRF1 contribute to its different cellular roles.

Aisling Quinlan
Aisling obtained her B.Sc in Molecular Medicine from Trinity College Dublin. In her thesis she studied enzymes responsible for tRNA modifications. Aisling then took a position as a research assistant in the Laboratory of Prof. McStay in the Centre of Chromosome Biology at NUIG. During her two years there, Aisling studied the characterization and organization of the nucleolus. In November 2017 Aisling joined the laboratory of Prof. Santocanale as a Ph.D. student where she is currently investigating the role CDC7 kinase in response to replication stress.

Chiara Cazzaniga
Chiara obtained her B.Sc and M.Sc in Biology and Molecular and cell biology from the University of Milan. As part of her master’s degree Chiara travelled to Ireland where she completed her thesis work on plant epigenetics. Chiara joined the Santocanale lab as a PhD student in 2018. Here she is researching the kinase CDC7 and how it is implicated in the response to DNA replication perturbations.

Ilenia Cappadona
Ilenia recently obtained her M.Sc in Medical Biotechnology from University of Messina. In her master thesis she explored the role of Transglutaminase 2 in prostate cancer, to assess its value as a possible serum tumour marker. In January 2020 she joined the laboratory of Prof. Santocanale as an Erasmus student, she is currently investigating the genetic interactions that allow CDC7 to regulate DNA replication.

Abimbola Owonifari
Abimbola obtained her B.Sc in Immunology from Trinity College Dublin. During her thesis, Abimbola investigated the possibility of an innate immune memory response to S. aureus by human macrophages. In 2019 she joined the Cancer Research master programme at NUI Galway. In 2020 Abimbola joined the Santocanale lab to complete the research element of this degree. Here she is researching the specific roles and importance of DBF4 and DRF1 in CDC7 kinase activity and DNA replication.

Lab Pictures:

Lab 2020

lab 2019

Lab 2018