RNA Biology Group
Research Interests: RNA biology, mRNA translation and decay, Functional Genomics, cancer drug-resistance
Regulation of mRNA translation and decay is an integral part of the gene expression programme. As such, dysregulated mRNA translation and decay machineries play key roles in maintenance and progression of cancers, evidence by development of numerous drugs that target these mechanisms and are in various stages of clinical trials or in clinical use.
Recent advances in mRNA vaccine technology, exemplified by the spectacular success of the SARS-CoV2 mRNA vaccines, also highlight the importance of further research into the cellular mechanisms that control mRNA translation and decay to develop more potent treatments and improving upon the existing mRNA technologies.
We use state-of-the-art high-throughput technologies in combination with cell & molecular biology approaches to address important question in mechanisms of regulation of mRNA translation and decay and their role in complex diseases such as cancer
Mehdi obtained his PhD in Experimental Medicine from The University of British Columbia in Vancouver (2008-2012), working
on dysregulated mechanisms of gene expression during melanoma metastasis.
This was followed by a postdoctoral training stint at McGill University in Montreal (2013-2018).
His highly collaborative research during this period involved discovery of coordinated networks of transcription, splicing and translation, which maintains stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency, revealing the mechanism whereby microRNAs repress translation of target mRNAs and showing that this mechanism is critical in regulation of cancer cells resistance to apoptosis as well as the regulation of the cellular innate immune response to viral infection. In addition, his work led to the discovery of a novel nucleic-acid-based surveillance mechanism of mRNA translation.
Mehdi joined the Patrick Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University Belfast in 2019 as a Principal Investigator.
His group currently focuses on mechanisms of regulation of mRNA translation and decay, alterations in these mechanisms induced by chemotherapeutic drugs, and how these mechanisms contribute to therapy-resistance in cancer.
Parisa acquired her PhD in Molecular Genetics from Tarbiat Modares University (2014-2018) where she investigated the targeting mechanism of microRNAs and its involvement in diseases.
Parisa followed her interests by joining the RNA Biology Lab as a postdoctoral research associate. Her research is mainly focused on deducing the role of RNA binding proteins in regulation of microRNA-induced mRNA decay and translational silencing and its importance in tumourigenesis.
Susanta obtained his PhD from CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (2015-2022) in the field of RNA Biology. He has mainly focused on deciphering the coordinated biogenesis of miRNAs in mammalian cells.
Along with this, he has also explored the importance of different cellular organelle in miRNA trafficking and activity. At RNA Biology Group, Susanta will be continuing his interest in RNA Biology by investigating the effects of different anti-cancer treatments on mRNA translation and decay machinery and try to elucidate the effect of this machinery in anti-cancer drug resistance.
Beth completed her BSc in Biomedical Science (2017-2021) at Ulster University. She is currently working towards her MSc degree in Cancer Medicine (2021-2022) at Queen’s University Belfast.
Beth’s research at the RNA Biology Group focuses on the mechanisms that control the stability of RNA-binding proteins that have been linked to microRNA-induced silencing
- Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Fellowship; Uncovering the mechanism of resistance to RNA-incorporating drugs in cancer
- SARS-CoV-2 impairs interferon production via NSP2-induced repression of mRNA translation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Aug 9;119(32)