Dr Mark Dockrell

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Email Mark.Dockrell@swtirr.org.uk

As a scientist I have had many titles - biochemist, pharmacologist and now cell biologist - but, regardless of my title, I have always worked in medically related departments with strong links to patients. For over 10 years the patient group that my work has related to most has been renal patients.

While working for my PhD at the University of Edinburgh with Prof. David Webb and Dr Brent Williams I learnt the principles of pharmacology and practice of biochemistry focusing on mechanisms that cause hypertension (high blood pressure). I went to France to the University of Montpellier to learn techniques for retrieving small amounts of RNA with Prof. Claude Chevillard. After completing my PhD, I moved to King's College London to work with Prof. Bruce Hendry in the department of Renal Medicine. There I started to focus more on what goes on inside the cell regulating cell behaviour and relating to the development of kidney disease, particularly renal fibrosis.

Our work at SWTIRR has expanded to look at key “hormones” or “growth factors”, such as EGF, TGF-beta and BMP-7, that may regulate kidney health and disease. We are interested in the signals inside the cell activated by these growth factors which mediate important outcomes such as: scar protein production e.g. fibronectin; growth factor production e.g. CTGF; cell survival; and very importantly cell phenotype (or characteristics). Altered signals within the cell may change the phenotype of the cell from a good and well behaved Dr Jekyll cell to a badly behaved and potentially dangerous Mr Hyde cell.

The signalling pathways and molecules we are studying that mediate these events include MAP kinases such as p38 as well as the novel atypical MAP kinase Erk5, the Smads, the Id proteins and the adaptor molecule Dab2.