Prof Rosemary O'Connor

Prof Rosemary O'Connor

UCC

Rosemary O’Connor is Professor of Cell Biology and Head of the School of Biochemisty and Cell Biology at UCC. She holds a BSc in Biochemistry from University College Galway and a Ph.D. from NUI Maynooth.

Research experience was gained in Germany and the USA in academia (at the Institute of Pathology of the University of Wurzburg and the Wistar Institute at U PENN, Philadelphia); and in Industry (at Immunogen, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts). There her research supported clinical trials in lymphoma and leukemia and a new drug discovery research programme on apoptosis.

She joined the Department of Biochemistry in UCC in 1997 and established a research programme in cancer biology and also the establishment of structured PhD and MSc programmes in this area. Her research focuses on growth factor signaling in cancer, and especially on the actions the Insulin-like Growth Factor system, which has a fundamental role in cell growth and lifespan.

She holds an Science Foundation Ireland Investigator award on IGF actions and is a co PI in the Irish Cancer Society National Collaborative Cancer Centre “Breast Predict”.

She was awarded the Irish Area Medal by the Biochemical Society in 2007 and serves on a number of international scientific and funding bodies.

Abstract:
Unsolved Mysteries – Insulin and IGF activity in Cancer

It is well known from genetic studies and simple animal models that the Insulin/IGF system protects cells and tissues and prevents diseases of ageing. A key to this effect appears to be maintaining low levels of IGF activity throughout life.

High levels of Insulin/IGF signaling, which can arise due to lifestyle, environmental factors, or certain diseases/conditions can facilitate the onset and progression of cancer, and shorten lifespan. In mice, pharmacological suppression of IGF activity has the same effects as caloric restriction in preventing cancer progression.

However, pharmacological intervention in the IGF signaling pathway in humans has proven difficult, as demonstrated by the lack of success of multiple kinase inhibitors and antibodies in world wide clinical trials. This has lead to a re-evaluation of the actions of this pathway and its complexity in cancer.

This talk will explore some of the unsolved mysteries and our approaches to addressing them. These include what distinguishes Insulin and IGF actions, why protection of mitochondria and mitochondrial dysfunction is important, and how this pathway can be hijacked in cancer cells.

3D mammosphere culture of breast epithelial cell line MCF10A.

Courtesy of Dr. Emer Bourke, NUI Galway

Phospho-Akt expression and localisation

Mediated by VEGF in A549 lung cancer cells. Visualised by high content image analysis.

Courtesy of Dr Martin Barr, Clinical Scientist & Adjunct Assistant Professor, St James’s Hospital & Trinity College Dublin

Metaphase chromosome spread of Jurkat T-lymphoma cells

Courtesy of Rebecca Gorry, PhD Student, Mc Gee Lab, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, Conway Institute, UCD

Apoptosis assessment of SKMES-1 lung cancer cells

Using a multiparameter apoptosis staining kit, showing cell nuclei (blue), actin (green) and mitochondrial activity (orange).

Courtesy of Dr Martin Barr, Clinical Scientist & Adjunct Assistant Professor, St James’s Hospital & Trinity College Dublin

HeLa Cells

Courtesy of Rebecca Gorry, PhD Student, Mc Gee Lab, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, Conway Institute, UCD

IACR & EACR Joint Conference 2020

26 — 28 February 2020 at Galway Bay Hotel, Galway

Mitotic Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia K562 Cells

Courtesy of Rebecca Gorry, PhD Student, Mc Gee Lab, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, Conway Institute, UCD

Cell to Cell Tweeting

Via nanoparticles (red) in Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

Courtesy of Sinéad Lindsay, UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin (UCD) Ireland.

Confocal Microscopy Analysis

Of phospho-Akt expression in H460 lung cancer cells in response to hypoxia (0.5% O2).

Courtesy of Dr Martin Barr, Clinical Scientist & Adjunct Assistant Professor, St James’s Hospital & Trinity College Dublin

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