Our Research focuses on studying the Hippo pathway and its role in driving tumour and regenerative niches. We have a particular 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 approaches, including new imaging modalities and collaboration with physicists, as well as a range of cellular and in vivo model systems to gain new insights. Currently we have ongoing projects on how the Hippo pathway and caveolae integrates with the immune system, mechanotransduction and resistance to therapeutics. In addition, we are identifying small molecule modulators of the Hippo pathway. Overall we believe that understanding fundamental regulation at the molecular level is necessary to fully explore the therapeutic possibilities of targeting this pathway.

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People

Dr Carsten Gram Hansen

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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 begin my independent career.

I am pleased that our team is diverse, international and that all are great team citizens. While carrying out our Science we strive to be challenged, and are in general hard working, inter disciplinary, but also want to have fun along the way.

Team Members

Omar M. Salem – PhD student (2017-)

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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.

Jiwon Park – PhD student (2017 -)

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My research focuses on the role of mechanotransduction signals in osteosarcoma 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 MRC-funded Doctoral Training Programme in Precision Medicine in the Gram Hansen Lab.

Lisa Kölln – PhD student (2017-)

(Based at the University of Strathclyde, Prof. Gail McConnell lab)

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“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.”

Susanna Riley – PhD student (2019 -)

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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.

Siyang Jia – MSc Student (2018 -2019) currently an intern in the lab

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Richard Cunningham – Post Doc (2019 –

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Alumni

Valentina Rausch – PhD Student (2016 – 2019)

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Alumni of the Gram Hansen Lab, studying the interaction between the Hippo pathway and the plasma membrane. 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.

  • DUNCAN MACLEAN (Honours student), Currently continuing his Medicine Degree at the University of Edinburgh.
  • TAMARA HUSSAIN (Honours student), Currently working at Charles River.
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Research

Background

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.

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Overview

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. 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 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.

Internal webpage

Collaborators

Prof. Gail McConnell https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/mcconnellgailprof/ 

Dr. Pierre Bagnaninchi http://www.crm.ed.ac.uk/people/pierre-bagnaninchi

Prof. Brian Link: https://www.mcw.edu/departments/cell-biology-neurobiology-and-anatomy/faculty/brian-link-phd 

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

Dr. Yi Feng https://www.ed.ac.uk/inflammation-research/people/principal-investigators/dr-yi-feng

Dr. Sonja Vermeren https://www.ed.ac.uk/inflammation-research/people/principal-investigators/dr-sonja-vermeren

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 Simms https://www.ed.ac.uk/cancer-centre/research/sims-group

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Join Us

MRC FUNDED PhD POSITION EU/UK students eligible. Data/computer savvy people especially encouraged to apply. Stints at Karolinska included!

PhD opening

Precision Medicine Project – Taming the Hippo in mesothelioma through proteogenomics

https://www.ed.ac.uk/usher/precision-medicine/project-opportunities/20-21-projects/taming-the-hippo-in-mesothelioma-through-proteogen

Feel free to contact me for more info!

Email Dr. Carsten for enquiries

We are Always looking for motivated scientist with a strong track record to join us, that would like to apply for personal fellowships.

Some External Postdoc Fellowships:EMBO FellowshipsNewton International Fellowships (open Jan-Mar); Marie Curie Individual Fellowships (Open Apr-Sep) etc.

PhD studentships are available for UK/EU students. The application to these scholarships generally opens between Oct – Dec. Please feel free to contact me in advance if you would like to undertake a PhD study with us.