As Professor of Cell Biology within the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology I run a research group studying mechanisms of cancer cell division and migration. I graduated from the University of Oxford with a First Class Honours Degree in Biochemistry in 1989 before completing a DPhil at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford in 1993. I undertook postdoctoral research within the laboratory of Professor Erich Nigg first as a Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) in Lausanne (1993-1995) Switzerland and then as a Maitre Assistant in the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Geneva Switzerland (1995-1998). I took up a lectureship at the University of Leicester in 1999 before receiving a Lister Institute Senior Research Fellowship in 2000. I was promoted to a Readership in 2005 and Personal Chair in 2008. I was Deputy Head of Department for Biochemistry from 2010-2015 and Dean of Research for the College of Life Sciences from 2014-2020. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
My research aims to gain new molecular insights on the mechanisms of cell division and migration and how defects in these processes promote genetic instability and the invasive capacity of cancer cells. My major interest is in understanding how microtubule organization is regulated by the human NEK kinase family and how these enzymes control mitotic spindle assembly and remodelling of the cytoskeleton. I am keen to use this knowledge to develop novel precision medicines for cancer therapy with a particular focus on lung cancer. For this research I collaborate closely with biochemists structural biologists and clinical oncologists as well as seeking to work with industrial partners. I am the Principal Investigator for the Leicester Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund while my laboratory has received funding for my research from the Wellcome Trust Cancer Research UK BBSRC MRC Worldwide Cancer Research and Kidney Research UK.
(0) 1. Sampson J, Richards MW, Choi J, Fry AM and Bayliss R (2021) Phase separation of EML4-ALK variant 3 is dependent upon an active ALK conformation. EMBO Reports (in press).
2. O'Regan L, Barone G, Adib R, Woo CG, Jeong HJ, Richardson E, Richards MW, Muller PAJ, Collis SJ, Fennell DA, Choi J, Bayliss R and Fry AM (2020) EML4-ALK V3 drives cell migration through NEK9 and NEK7 kinases in non-small-cell lung cancer. Journal of Cell Science 133.
3. Adib R, Montgomery JM, Atherton J, O'Regan L, Richards MW, Straatman KR, Roth D, Straube A, Bayliss R, Moores CA and Fry AM (2019) Mitotic phosphorylation by Nek6 and Nek7 reduces the microtubule affinity of EML4 to promote chromosome congression. Science Signaling 12, eaaw2939.
4. Mukherjee M, Sabir S, O'Regan L, Sampson J, Richards MW, Huguenin-Dezot N, Ault JR, Chin JW, Zhuravleva A, Fry AM and Bayliss R (2018) Mitotic phosphorylation regulates Hsp72 spindle localization by uncoupling ATP binding from substrate release. Science Signaling 11 (543).
5. Sampson J, O'Regan L, Dyer MJD, Bayliss R and Fry AM (2017) Hsp72 and Nek6 cooperate to cluster amplified centrosomes in cancer cells. Cancer Research 77, 4785-4796.
6. Haq T, Richards MW, Burgess SG, Gallego P, Yeoh S, O'Regan L, Reverter D, Roig J, Fry AM and Bayliss R (2015) Mechanistic basis of Nek7 activation through Nek9 binding and induced dimerization. Nature Communications 6, 8771.
7. O'Regan L, Sampson J, Richards MW, Knebel A, Roth D, Hood FE, Straube A, Royle SJ, Bayliss R and Fry AM (2015) Hsp72 is targeted to the mitotic spindle by Nek6 kinase to promote K-fibre assembly and mitotic progression. Journal of Cell Biology 209, 349-358.
8. Prosser SL, Sahota NK, Pelletier L, Morrison CG and Fry AM (2015) Nek5 promotes centrosome integrity in interphase and loss of centrosome cohesion in mitosis. J. Cell Biol. 209, 339-348.
9. Richards MW, O'Regan L, Roth D, Montgomery JM, Straube A, Fry AM and Bayliss R (2015) Microtubule association of EML proteins and the EML4-ALK variant 3 oncoprotein requires an N-terminal trimerization domain. Biochemical J. 467, 529-536.
10. Richards MW, Law EWP, Rennalls LP, Busacca S, O'Regan L, Straube A, Fry AM, Fennell DA, and Bayliss R (2014) Crystal structure of EML1 reveals the basis for Hsp90-dependence of oncogenic EML4-ALK by disruption of an atypical Î²-propeller domain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (U.S.A.) 111, 5195-5200.
Topics that I would be interested to talk to journalists about and which I would consider myself an expert include cell division cancer cell biology and targeted cancer therapies.