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Prof Adrian Harwood  -  PhD


Following my BA in Zoology from the University of Oxford, I investigated gene targeting by mitotic homologous recombination in cultured mammalian cells at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Chris Bostock, being awarded a PhD in 1988.

My further research has focused on the study of signal transduction processes in the context of cell biology. Initially, I held a Research Fellowships at the ICRF Clare Hall Laboratories (1988-1991) in the group of Jeff Williams. During this period, I pioneered the study of cAMP-dependent protein kinase in Dictyostelium, establishing the basic role of this important kinase in spatial and temporal control during development. I also established a number of key technologies for Dictyostelium  research, including the use of lacZ marker genes. I was awarded a MRC Post-doctoral Fellowship at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, (1992-1994) in the group of Rob Kay. Here, I carried out the first REMI mutagenesis screens outside the US, leading to discovering the essential role of GSK-3 in cell and developmental biology of Dictyostelium.

In 1995 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Biomedical Fellowship and established my own research group at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology (LMCB), holding a staff position in the Dept of Biology at University College London. I was promoted to Reader in 2001 and a personal chair in 2003. During this period, I continued to study GSK-3 signalling in Dictyostelium and developed an international reputation in the area of Wnt signaling. I discovered the first beta-catenin and the existence of adherens junctions outside the metazoa, published in Nature. In addition, my Cell paper on GSK-3 was a cornerstone for the discovery that lithium inhibits GSK-3. I have continued to investigate the role of lithium on cellular signaling pathways, investigating both GSK-3 and inositol phosphate signaling in both Dictyostelium and neurons. My 2002 Nature paper is a seminal paper in the field of psychopharmacology, showing that inositol phosphate signaling is a common target of the majority of mood stabilizers.

In 2005, I moved to the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, where I have continued to investigate the cellular targets of lithium and other mood stabilizers, discovering that lithium suppresses PIP3 signalling and a novel signal pathway mediated by prolyl oligopeptidase and multiple inositol polyphosphate phosphatase. I have regularly been invited to speak at the BAP, CINP and ACNP, and in 2010 was made a Fellow of the CINP. I am also a Fellow of the Society of Biology (FSB).

My involvement in scientific soceities, includes being one of three executive officers (Treasurer) of the British Society for Cell Biology (BSCB) and a divisional committee member of the Society for General Microbiology (SGM). I have organized a number of major conferences and symposia, including “Wnt Signalling in Development, Disease and Cell Biology” (2009) and the 2010 International Dictyostelium Conference. I am an associate Editor of Molecular Biotechnology and academic editor for PLOSone.

Within the School of Biosciences, I was Group Leader of the Molecular Cell Biology Research Group (2005-2007), and served as acting joint Head of Research in 2008. I was Head of Innovation, Partnership and Engagement from 2009-2013.