Modelling the dynamics of the Tumour Necrosis Factor Related Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (TRAIL) Pathway

Gavin Fullstone – Postdoctoral Fellow at the Universität Stuttgart

Stories_insci Stories_insci on July 22, 2018

Gavin Fullstone

Question
In less than 200 words, what main research questions are you working on? Please make sure to first include a brief context and background to your research, articulate your question(s) and conclude with why you think it’s important to study the them (i.e., the potential broader impacts).
Answer
I study the way cells commit suicide, an important process in maintaining a healthy body and in preventing cancer. Normally, cells sense when something has gone wrong and kill themselves, in a controlled manner, as to prevent potential harm. Moreover, the body’s natural protection, the immune system, detects harmful cells and triggers them to die. When these processes fail, cancer can occur. Cancer cells from different patients or even different cancer cells from the same patient can react differently to the same treatments, so understanding and predicting why certain cells live and others die is complex. I use an approach called systems biology, a mix of biology and computational techniques to study the processes that control cell death decisions. The aim being to simulate what is happening in individual cells on super computers. By using this technique, I hope to improve our understanding of why these responses are so variable. These simulations could be used in the future to predict treatment responses in patients and even be used to develop personalised treatment plans for each individual patient. My work also affords me the opportunity to work with scientists, mathematicians and doctors in a highly invigorating, international and diverse working environment.

 

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