Our Research centers on tissue homeostasis with a particular focus on the Hippo pathway and its role in driving tumour and regenerative niches. We have a special interest in plasma membrane invaginations termed caveolae, as we have recently shown a direct link between caveolae and the Hippo pathway. We strive to provide fundamental insights into the Hippo pathway, caveolae and the biological processes that they regulate. We use interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches, including collaborations with physicists and clinicians. To gain new insights, we take advantage of a range of cellular and in vivo model systems, as well as new imaging modalities and ‘omics’ approaches. Currently, we have ongoing projects on the Hippo pathway’s role in the immune system, mechanotransduction, and resistance to therapeutics. In addition, we are identifying small molecule modulators of the Hippo pathway and seek to understand how the Hippo pathway drives developmental processes. Overall, we believe that understanding fundamental regulation at the molecular level is necessary to fully explore the therapeutic possibilities of targeting this pathway.
Meet the people behind the science.
I did my MSc in Aarhus, Denmark carrying out research on the serotonin transporter. I then moved to Cambridge to pursue a PhD with Dr Ben Nichols at the MRC- Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the Cell Biology division. Through a Lundbeck foundation Post Doctoral Fellowship I stayed on to maximise the output of my PhD findings. After a six-year stint in Cambridge I via a Post Doctoral Fellowship from the Danish Science Foundation moved to San Diego to work with Professor Kun-Liang Guan. While there I studied the cellular signalling pathway called the Hippo Pathway. In Nov 2015 I was recruited to the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research on a Chancellor’s Fellowship to set up a new lab.
I am pleased that our team is diverse, international and that all are great team citizens. Through our shared interest in discovery based inter disciplinary Science, we seek to address fundamental biological questions. We strive to be challenged and to make important discoveries, but also seek to have fun along the way.
Omar M. Salem – PhD student (2017-)
Born and raised in Egypt, I moved to the UK to continue my undergraduate studies. I received a First Class BSc (Hons) in Cell Biology from the University of Stirling. I later joined the University of Edinburgh for a MSc by Research in Biomedical Sciences. My PhD project at the Gram Hansen lab is focused on studying the Hippo pathway regulation of Prostate Cancer development, progression and metastasis.
Read about Omar’s work doi: 10.3390/cells8040370
Jiwon Park – PhD student (2017 -)
My research focuses on the role of mechanotransduction signals in relation to the Hippo pathway. I completed my undergraduate degree in BSc (Hons) Biomedical sciences (Pharmacology) at the University of Edinburgh in 2017. After graduating, I started on the MRC-funded Precision Medicine Doctoral Training Programme in the Gram Hansen Lab.
Read about Jiwon’s work doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.11.066
Lisa Kölln – PhD student (2017-)
(Based at the University of Strathclyde, Prof. Gail McConnell lab)
“In my PhD project I am investigating the Hippo pathway in Malignant Mesothelioma. For that I use advanced imaging techniques in the lab of Prof Gail McConnell at the University of Strathclyde. Before I moved to Scotland, I finished my Master’s degree in Physics at the University of Potsdam.”
Read about Lisa’s work (Preprint) doi: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.12.21.423789v2
Susanna Riley – PhD student (2019 -)
Originally from rural West England, I completed a BA (Hons) in Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Oxford in 2017 before moving to the University of Edinburgh for an MSc by Research in Biomedical Sciences. After completing this, I began the Wellcome Trust PhD programme in Tissue Repair. My research in the Gram Hansen lab focusses on the role of the Hippo pathway in embryonic development and regeneration.
Dr Richard Cunningham – Post Doc (2019 -)
After completing my undergraduate studies at Trinity College Dublin, I came to Scotland where I obtained my MSc in Bioinformatics at the University of Glasgow. I stayed on in Glasgow, subsequently carrying out my PhD in Professor Andrew Biankin’s group, exploring the potential in targeting tumour metabolism in pancreatic cancer. As part of the Gram Hansen lab, my research is centred on disentangling the role of the Hippo pathway in the formation and progression of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Krishna Purohit – PhD student (Sep 2020 – )
I have a BSc honours in Biochemistry and hold masters in Biochemistry (University of Edinburgh) and Bioinformatics and System Biology (University of Manchester). As part of the MRC Precision Medicine DTP my PhD project in the Gram Hansen lab focuses on investigating the role of cancer mutations using a novel omics technique called proteogenomics, with the aim of stratifying diagnosis and treatments for mesothelioma patients.
Siyang Jia – PhD student 2021 –
Sijang was a MSc student with us and is now back for more! Siyang is part funded by the CSC and is studying how the Hippo pathway regulates cancer onset and development.
Dr Valentina Rausch – PhD Student (2016 – 2019)
Alumni of the Gram Hansen Lab, revealed the interaction between the Hippo pathway and caveolae. Dr Rausch was the first PhD student in the lab, and handed her thesis in after 3 years and 18 days! Now academic Post Doc.
Read about Valentina’s work while in Edinburgh
MSc and Honours
- 2020 Jon Corres (MScR) 2nd Project. Obtained overall a Distinction. Now a PhD student back in Spain.
- 2020 Josh Martin (MScR) 2nd Project. Obtained overall a Distinction. Now a PhD student at BARTS Cancer Center.
- 2019-2020 Emelie Shepherd (MScR) 1st Project. Obtained overall a Distinction.
- 2018 Duncan Maclean (Honours student), moved on to continuing his Medicine Degree at the University of Edinburgh.
- 2017 Tamara Hussain (Honours student), moved onto working at Charles River.
Cellular proliferation and differentiation needs to be tightly regulated to maintain tissue mass and homeostasis and if this regulation is lost cellular overgrowth and cancer occurs. In addition, this regulation also needs to be dynamically regulated throughout development and in regenerative processes. In recent years the Hippo pathway has been elucidated as a potent regulator in these processes, where it functions as a nexus and signal integrator of diverse cellular signals. The core components of the Hippo pathway comprise a regulatory serine–threonine kinase module and a transcriptional module. Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional co-activator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) are the major downstream effectors in this transcriptional module where they predominantly bind to and regulate the activity of the TEAD family of transcription factors. YAP/TAZ therefore coordinates regulation of stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and correct regulations of YAP/TAZ is therefore essential to maintain tissue mass and homeostasis.
Recently, the understanding of the regulatory mechanisms of the Hippo pathway has become a major focus, especially in cancer biology and regenerative medicine. Understanding the chief biological output of the Hippo pathway centers on Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional coactivator with a PDZ-binding domain (TAZ), which are the prime mediators of the Hippo pathway. When they are active they shuttle to the nucleus and bind to and activate their cognate transcription factors. A wealth of cellular regulators have been identified, but how the dynamic subcellular regulation of the core players takes plays is not well understood and we seek to answer this fundamental process. In addition we will seek to understand the biological role of the Hippo pathway in biological processes important for human health with a focus on regeneration, inflammation and cancer.
We are a collaborative and interdisciplinary lab, that utilize live cell and in vivo imaging in both mammalian cell culture and the Zebrafish in combination with genome editing, biochemistry, label free holographic imaging and gene expression analyses to address these questions.
Prof. Gail McConnell https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/mcconnellgailprof/
Dr. Pierre Bagnaninchi http://www.crm.ed.ac.uk/people/pierre-bagnaninchi
Prof Chris Ponting https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/chris-ponting
Dr. Tamir Chandra https://www.ed.ac.uk/mrc-human-genetics-unit/research/chandra-group
Dr. Binzhi Qian https://www.ed.ac.uk/centre-reproductive-health/dr-binzhi-qian
Prof. Donald Salter https://www.ed.ac.uk/pathology/people/staff-students/donald-salter
Prof. Neil Carragher https://www.ed.ac.uk/cancer-centre/research/carragher-group
†Dr. Andrew Sims
Additional funding from LifeArc, just been awarded Dec 21st 2020, more to follow soon!
Present major funder
We are Always looking for motivated scientist with a strong track record to join us. We are always interested to support excellent candidates to pursue personal fellowships TO SUPPORT PROMISING RESEARCHERS TO PURSUE THEIR FUTURE INDEPENDENT CAREERS.
MSCA cells open, deadline Oct 12th. Happy to discuss current projects, possible projects that you might be interested, are your entire own ideas and share our (hopefully) soon to be published papers. We have three research publications under review, so good time to join us and develop your career. Feel free to reach out to team members to discuss how the lab works! Also please see additional information here from UoE
PostDoc opening soon to be advertised. If high content imaging, machine learning and drug development is your thing, then we will soon have an exciting 1.5yr PDRA opening funded by LifeArc-CSO. Please reach out if interested!
Some Postdoc Fellowships: Wellcome (Next Oct 26th), Newton International Fellowships, EMBO Fellowships, Newton International INDIA Fellowship, BBSRC Discovery Fellowships (March-May), Marie Curie Individual Fellowships ( Apr-Sep), FEBS Long Term Fellowships ( September – ?) etc…. PLEASE REACH OUT IF INTERESTED, and please allow for time to discuss and develop your project before the deadline)
These types of personal fellowships are excellent ways to transition towards independence, and we would be excited to facilitate and develop your research to obtain this goal with you.
PhD opportunities for any nationality soon to be advertised!
If you are into the fascinating Hippo pathway and/or caveolae, regeneration, cancer, macrophages and/or zebrafish, please reach out. We have two separate projects opening, please reach out if interested.
Internally funded PhD studentships are available for UK/EU students. The application to these scholarships generally opens between Oct – Dec (sometimes also in the Spring). We aim for that all PhD students, upon completion of their studies, should come out with a first authored publication.
In addition, institutional shortlisting for the Carnegie Trust to take place in late Fall. Here you need to be en route for (or already have obtained) a first Class Honours from a Scottish university. Please see the Carnegie Trust for further information.
There are international funding such as Boehringer Ingelheim, with multiple deadlines during the year. Your country of origin, or where you reside might also have PhD Fellowship.
Do feel free to contact me in advance if you would like to undertake your PhD research with us. We are also interested in supporting self-funded PhD students if your interest align with ours and we think we would be a good fit.
Please also feel free to reach out to current members to find out how it is to work in the lab. Team members email addresses can be found under “The Team“.
We are a very supportive lab that want you to succeed!
Email Dr. Carsten for inquiries
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
We are committed to maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic status, or physical/mental ability. We will continuously strive to attain equity in research by promoting a respectful lab environment and being transparent in our work.
We believe that open, honest communication, professionalism in science, and a diverse workforce allows us to create new ideas and excel academically.