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20 May 2011

Society members elected to Royal Society

Two members of the Biochemical Society are among the latest group of distinguished scientists to be elected to the Royal Society of London.

They are Professor Robin Campbell Allshire of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, and Professor Doreen Cantrell of the Division of Cell Signalling and Immunology, University of Dundee.

Professor Allshire, a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, has made seminal contributions to the understanding of chromosome structure and function. His research on telomeres, the ends of chromosomes, revealed DNA sequence conservation among eukaryotes and first showed that telomeres shorten with age. Using elegant genetic methods, he probed the structure of the fission yeast centromere, which governs accurate chromosome segregation. He then used these findings to prove that centromere-associated heterochromatin is essential for proper chromosome cohesion prior to cell division and to insure that single chromosomes can only be pulled to one daughter cell. Allshire's studies demonstrate that heterochromatin, long dismissed as junk DNA , is in fact a vital component of the chromosome segregation machinery.

Professor Doreen Cantrell, also a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, is known internationally for her insightful delineation of the molecular cell biological basis of T lymphocyte development and activation, which are key to the comprehension and manipulation of immune responses. Her seminal contributions include identifying key roles for the Ras family GTPases, demonstrating that the cellular location and kinetics of production of signalling lipids are crucial determinants of lymphocyte activation as well as unravelling the downstream serine kinase pathways which ultimately control T-lymphocyte function. She is noted for her multidisciplinary approach and the enlightened combination of biochemical, cell biological, transgenic and gene knock-out technologies.

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