Trinity Research: Understanding cellular suicide

Prof. Seamus Martin has a long-standing interest in how and why cells die and how other cells in the body respond to the death of one of their neighbours.  You might think that cells simply die by accident or due to old age, but there are many situations where cells actually commit suicide by activating a set of enzymes that coordinate their own death.  This type of deliberate cell death (called apoptosis) is very important because it goes on in the body literally every minute of the day where it functions to protect us from the development of cancer and numerous other life-threatening conditions.  In essence, when a cell becomes badly damaged, or acts abnormally in some way, apoptosis is used to rid the body of that errant cell.  Seamus Martin is in no doubt that advances in our knowledge of how apoptosis is regulated will lead to new treatments for cancer, autoimmunity and other conditions where cell death control has become disrupted in some way.  Working within The Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity College, The Martin laboratory are one of the most highly cited labs in the world in this area and their work is funded by major and prestigious research grants from Science Foundation Ireland and the Wellcome Trust UK.  Seamus Martin was also recently elected to the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), a European-wide academy of scientists that includes 50 Nobel laureates, and is only the sixth Irish scientist to be elected to EMBO in its 45 year history.