Dr Martin Turner receives Wellcome Discovery Award to study the regulation of T cells

Dr Martin Turner receives Wellcome Discovery Award to study the regulation of T cells

Dr Martin Turner receives Wellcome Discovery Award to study the regulation of T cells

Key points:

  • Dr Martin Turner has received a Wellcome Discovery Award to study T cell regulation by RNA binding proteins.
  • This project builds on new research by the lab into the influence of RNA binding proteins on immune cell fate.
  • By studying the mechanisms that regulate T lymphocyte function, this research has the potential to lead to cell-based therapy.  

The Institute is excited to congratulate Dr Martin Turner on being awarded a Wellcome Discovery Award earlier this year. The award supports bold research to answer ambitious, timely and important questions. Dr Turner’s research will tackle the molecular basis for immune memory and chronic antigen stimulation. The Turner lab will generate new tools and approaches to define the dynamics of protein and RNA interactions, with the aim of providing insight into a deeper layer of molecular regulation of the immune system.

“Having joined the Institute at the same time as Martin, it has been an immense pleasure to see his many achievements and to see him develop into a world-leading scientist in his field. The Wellcome Discovery Award is a fantastic recognition of this. This new project will see Martin head into the unexplored area of how RNA binding proteins affect immune memory, exhaustion, or antigen-independent activation. I am excited to see the outcomes and the many wider impacts from this work.” said Dr Simon Cook, Institute Director.

The function of lymphocytes is controlled by the integration of different signals by proteins and protein complexes to generate cells with special functions - such as the ability to kill virally infected cells. Previous research from the Turner lab found that a family of RNA binding proteins (RBPs) limit the tempo by which CD8 T cells form cytotoxic effector cells and the ability of these effectors to kill, a property known as cytotoxicity.

The Wellcome Discovery Award will allow Martin and his lab to examine the precise molecular and cellular mechanisms in more detail. The research will focus on the ZFP36 family of RBPs, to uncover how they interconnect key regulatory processes including transcription, epigenetics, RNA turnover, translation, and metabolism to determine the formation of lymphocyte effector and memory cells.

Dr Martin Turner

Dr Martin Turner explains: “It is important, and exciting, to be able to pursue new directions in science, which is one of our strengths here at the Babraham Institute. With the support of the Wellcome Discovery Award we’ll be able to bring together a unique combination of approaches to reveal the complex underpinnings of our immune response and provide us with a map of interactions that we might be able to manipulate.”

Career snapshot

Martin started his research career as a PhD student with Professor Sir Marc Feldmann at the University of London. During his PhD research, he made key contributions to the basic science that underpinned the development of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, through using inhibitors of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) – a cell signalling protein that drives inflammation. As a postdoc with Victor Tybulewicz at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in London he identified key signalling pathways that promote the development and function of B and T lymphocytes.

Martin’s research in 2002 was amongst the first to identify the in vivo role of p110d in lymphocyte development and function. He has pursued the investigation of post-transcriptional regulation of lymphocyte development and function identifying physiological roles for microRNAs and RNA binding proteins in the differentiation and function of B and T lymphocytes. The aim of this research is to provide a comprehensive understanding of lymphocyte function throughout life.



Press contact

Honor Pollard, Communications Officer, honor.pollard@babrham.ac.uk

Image description: Computer generated image of T cells

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.