University of Dundee

SCILLS Recruits Fourth Research Team Leader to Scotland

25 Aug 2009

The SCottish Institute for ceLL Signalling (SCILLS) at the College of Life Sciences, has made another key scientific appointment with the recruitment of Dr Patrick Pedrioli from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ).

Patrick, who is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Biochemistry at ETHZ, Switzerland’s premier research institute, will relocate to Dundee in December 2009 to take up his position at SCILLS as a Programme Leader. 

Launched in October 2008 with funding of £10 million from the Scottish Government SCILLS is the world’s first research Unit dedicated to the study of protein ubiquitylation, an extremely versatile control mechanism that regulates almost all aspects of cell life. The Institute is based at the University of Dundee.

The first three Team Leaders to be appointed were Dr Thimo Kurz, who is relocating to Dundee from the ETH Zurich, Switzerland; Dr Arno Alpi, who will join SCILLS from the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and Dr Gabriela Alexandru, who will come from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, USA.

Dr Pedrioli was born and brought up in Switzerland and obtained his undergraduate and Masters degrees at the ETHZ.  He then carried out research at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), Seattle, USA with Professor Ruedi Aebersold, which led to the award of his PhD degree in 2005.

Commenting on his appointment and research programme Dr Pedrioli said:- “I am very excited and grateful to have been offered the great opportunity to join SCILLS. It has become apparent during my visits to the Institute that Dundee not only offers a world-class research environment but that it also provides a very collegial and family friendly environment in which scientific ideas can be born and grow in harmony with the needs of a young family. I strongly believe that the study of post-translational modifications is key to furthering our understanding of how the cell functions as a coherent system and that these insights into the dynamics of cellular networks will ultimately lead us to better understand how diseases develop. I am, therefore, looking forward to collaborating with my new colleagues at the Protein Ubiquitination Unit of SCILLS to jointly unravel the functional significance that ubiquitin-like modifiers play in various cellular contexts."

Commenting on Patrick’s appointment Sir Philip Cohen, the Director of SCILLS said,  “We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Patrick. He has recently made a really novel finding that has enhanced our understanding of how the synthesis of proteins is controlled.  Patrick is also an expert in the key emerging areas of mass spectrometry and proteomics that complement the skills and know-how of the other Programme Leaders that we have appointed to SCILLS.  With Patrick’s appointment, recruitment of the senior positions in SCILLS is almost complete and I now expect to fill all the 35 scientific and support staff positions that can be made with current funding within the next year.

Patrick’s wife, Dr Deena Leslie Pedrioli, who is also a postdoctoral fellow at ETHZ, will be taking up a position as an Independent Investigator in the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee.  Deena, who is Canadian, met Patrick when they were both PhD students in Seattle.   The couple have a one year old daughter, Daniela.


ABOUT SCILLS - The SCottish Institute for ceLL Signalling

The SCottish Institute for ceLL Signalling (SCILLS) is a new research centre funded by the Scottish Government, which was launched on October 1st 2008. It will initially be based on the 4th floor of the Sir James Black Centre in the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, one floor above the world-renowned Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit (MRC-PPU) with which it will interact closely.  The founding Director is Sir Philip Cohen, who is also the Director of the MRC-PPU.  SCILLS is dedicated to understanding how biological processes are controlled and how they become deregulated in disease, with the long-term aim of facilitating the development of improved drugs to treat disease.

There is increasing evidence that abnormal levels of ubiquitylation may be a cause or consequence of many diseases, such as cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases.  For these reasons the development of drugs that target components of the ubiquitin system is predicted to become of major importance to the pharmaceutical industry in the future.  Indeed, the first drug developed in this area, Velcade, was approved for clinical use in 2007.  Developed by Millenium Pharmaceuticals, this compound is being used to treat cancers of the blood, such as Multiple Myeloma and Relapsed Mantle Cell Lymphoma.

The Protein Ubiquitylation Unit is the first research Division of SCILLS.  Its major aims are to advance understanding of the role of protein ubiquitylation and related modifications in cell regulation and human disease, to facilitate the development of drugs to treat diseases caused by abnormalities in this process, to generate reagents and improve technologies on which more rapid progress in this area depends, and to train the next generation of scientists who will advance the subject in the future. 

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