The Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway is delighted to host a visit from eminent cell biology researcher, Professor Kazutoshi Mori on 1st and 2nd November 2016.  Professor Mori of Kyoto University shares the 2014 Lasker Basic Medical Research Award with Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco. Walter and Mori were honoured for their work identifying core components of the unfolded protein response (UPR), an area of research that is being actively investigated for its role in cancer at the Apoptosis Research Centre.

The Lasker Awards, established in 1945, recognise the contribution of scientists, physicians and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human disease.  They are sometimes referred to as “America’s Nobels” and the Lasker Awards have a reputation for identifying future Nobel Prize winners.

Prof Mori made his first major discovery in UPR in 1993 while he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  He was investigating the internal quality control system present in all of our cells.  About one third of proteins or building blocks in our cells go through a protein production line, during which the quality of the proteins is checked.  When cells are under pressure to grow rapidly, such as in cancer, the production line is ramped up, leading to defects or poor quality proteins being produced.  This build-up of defective proteins that have not passed quality control checks triggers the ‘Unfolded Protein Response’.  Signals are sent to the brains of the cell, called the nucleus, to slow down production, giving the cell time to deal with the stress.  In the late 90’s, Professor Mori discovered a major sensor of defective proteins, known as IRE1, that also sends signals to trigger the unfolded protein response.  It was this discovery that was recognised by the Lasker Award.

Professor Afshin Samali and colleagues at the Apoptosis Research Centre, NUI Galway, are focused on researching the role of IRE1 in cancer cells. In particular, they are interested in finding out how cancer cells can hijack the Unfolded Protein Response and use IRE1 to allow them to grow, spread and evade cancer treatments.

Professor Mori will give a seminar entitled “The unfolded protein response: to mammals and beyond” on Wednesday 2nd November 2016 from 12-1pm at the ILAS lecture theatre, NUI Galway.  All are welcome to attend.   Professor Mori’s visit is supported by funding from ISCA Japan and PRTLI.


Brief Biography of Professor Kazutoshi Mori:

Mori was born in 1958 in Kurashiki, Okayama, and graduated from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Kyoto University in 1981. He was appointed as an assistant professor at Gifu Pharmaceutical University in 1985, before becoming a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 1989. He was a researcher at the HSP (Heat Shock Protein) Research Institute in Kyoto from 1993 to 1999, and has been a member of the faculty of Kyoto University since 1999.

Pictured L - R: Aengus Parsons, Research Office Director; Prof Lokesh Joshi, VP for Research, Prof Kazutoshi Mori, Prof Afshin Samali, Director,  Apoptosis Research Centre; Dr Sinéad Walsh, Scientific Project Manager, Apostosis Research Centre

Pictured L – R: Aengus Parsons, Research Office Director; Prof Lokesh Joshi, VP for Research, Prof Kazutoshi Mori, Prof Afshin Samali, Director, Apoptosis Research Centre; Dr Sinéad Walsh, Scientific Project Manager, Apostosis Research Centre