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Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

Department A-Z

Our strategy

CIMR is a unique partnership between basic and clinical research, aiming to understand the cellular basis of disease. Our goal is to create an inspiring environment in which outstanding scientists can excel. By providing state-of-the-art core facilities and support for our researchers, we foster new collaborations that spark discoveries about fundamental cellular processes and their relevance in disease.

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Research Advances

Writing in Cell Metabolism, Luis Nobre from Mike Weekes’s lab in collaboration with Ben Gewurz in Harvard Medical School utilize multiplexed proteomics to identify key virus-induced metabolic pathways important for outgrowth of newly infected primary human Bcells. Virus-activated mitochondrial one-carbon metabolism is crucial for nucleotide and glutathione syntheses, as well as generation of intramitochondrial NADPH.

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Research Advances

Shenjiang Tan from the Warren lab has reported in Blood that EFL1 mutations impair eIF6 release to cause Shwachman-Diamond syndrome.

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Research advances

Vasileios Kargas in the Warren lab (CIMR) has reported in eLife how the key catalytic centre of the ribosome is sculpted.

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Research Advances

Writing in Cell Reports, Lior Soday from Mike Weekes’s lab in collaboration with Geoff Smith in the Department of Pathology describe a temporal proteomic analysis of vaccinia virus infection. This includes systematic investigation into virally induced host protein degradation. Vaccinia degrades multiple families of immune ligands and interferon-stimulated genes. The viral C6 protein targets histone deacetylase 5 (HDAC5) for proteasomal degradation to evade the antiviral activity of HDAC5.

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Research advances

Farah Siddiqi and colleagues from David Rubinsztein’s lab have reported in Nature Communications that felodipine induces autophagy in the brains of mice with plasma concentrations mimicking those seen in humans taking the drug for hypertension. Felodipine enhances the clearance of neurotoxic proteins and ameliorates signs in animal models of Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and tauopathy.

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Research advances

Gareth Fearnley in the Sharpe lab (CIMR) has reported in eLife that the homophilic receptor PTPRK selectively dephosphorylates multiple junctional regulators to promote cell-cell adhesion

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Research advances

Claudia Rato & Yahui Yan from the Ron lab report on the discovery of an intracellular role for a protein long believed to be secreted neurotrophin. Surprisingly, they find that MANF regulates protein folding homeostasis by antagonising nucleotide exchange of the endoplasmic reticulum chaperone BiP.

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Research advances

In Nature Communications, Alexandra Davies in the Robinson lab has uncovered a novel role for the adaptor protein AP-4 in regulating the cellular recycling process autophagy.

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Research advances

Writing in Nature Cell Biology, Edward Avezov (Ron Lab and UK DRI), Joe Chambers (Marciniak Lab) and their collaborators at the Department of Chemical Engineering of Cambridge University and the École Normale Supérieure of Paris report on an active process that distributes the contents of the endoplasmic reticulum throughout mammalian cells

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Research advances

Chris Gawden-Bone in the Griffiths lab has revealed in Immunity that PIP5 Kinases Regulate Membrane Phosphoinositide and Actin Composition for Targeted Granule Secretion by Cytotoxic Lymphocytes

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Research advances

Sung Min Son in the Rubinsztein group has reported in Cell Metabolism that in some cells, mTOR complex 1 can be activated by leucine via its metabolite acetyl-CoA.

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IMAGINE ID Family Day

The IMAGINE-ID study, led by Principal Investigator Lucy Raymond at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, hosted a Family Fun Day on Sunday 7th July. Avery, the beautiful and touching story written by Professor Raymond, was the theme of the day, with families enjoying plenty of hands-on craft activities, led by Marta Altés, co-author and illustrator of Avery. Marta’s enthusiasm and creativity saw the children make beautifully decorated capes (just like Avery’s), as well as feather bookmarks and wonderful flying birds, which came to adorn a tree mural by the end of the day. The silent disco headsets hired for the event went down a treat with children either dancing away or listening to the music in their own space. Families were also able to take part in a variety of games and puzzles or read the posters displaying the study’s findings. The study’s resident Principal Investigators were also on hand for families needing help or advice. Lucy Raymond said of the family event: “it was a lovely way to say thank you to the families for taking part in the study”


Royal Society Award

Congratulations to Gillian Griffiths who has been awarded the Royal Society Buchanan Medal in recognition of her groundbreaking research establishing the fundamental cell biological mechanisms that drive cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) killing.

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World-leading genome study spells hope for sick babies

A Cambridge-based study has shown that the diagnosis and treatment of some of the most critically ill babies can be improved by sequencing their whole genome.

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Election to Membership of the European Molecular Biology Organization

Congratulations to Paul Lehner, who has been elected to join 48 Fellows from 17 countries as a member of EMBO. “EMBO Members are excellent scientists who conduct research at the forefront of all life science disciplines, ranging from computational models or analyses of single molecules and cellular mechanics to the study of higher-order systems in development, cognitive neuroscience and evolution,” says EMBO Director Maria Leptin. New Members will be formally welcomed at the annual Members’ Meeting in Heidelberg between 29 and 31 October 2019.

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Senior Academic Promotion

Congratulations to Evan Reid who received promotion to University Reader.

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A new Director for CIMR

We are delighted to announce that Julian Rayner will become the fourth Director of Cambridge Institute of Medical Research and Professor of Cell Biology, from 1st May 2019. Julian is currently a Senior Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and his research focuses on the interactions between Plasmodium parasites and human red blood cells, in order to identify new malaria drug and vaccine targets.

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The Keith Peters Building

At 6pm on Thursday 4th April, Professor Sir Keith Peters unveiled a plaque in reception to mark the formal re-naming of our building as The Keith Peters Building. Sixty guests, several of whom held senior positions in the Clinical School over 25 years ago, were invited by the School to be present and somehow, they easily fitted into Reception for the event. Sir Keith, as Regius Professor, was instrumental in convincing the Wellcome Trust and MRC to provide the funds for our building and was also successful in procuring the donation that allowed us to have a lounge/canteen on the top floor. Marking Sir Keith’s Welsh origin, the plaque in Reception is made of Welsh slate and the letter carving is by Kindersley.


Congratulations to David Rubinsztein who has been selected as one of Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers for 2018. This identifies 6078 scientists and social scientists who have authored multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science from 2006-2016. The number of researchers selected in each field is based on the square root of the population of authors listed on the field’s highly cited papers.

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Postgraduate Open Day

New publications

Weekes Lab (Cell Metabolism 2019)

Epstein-Barr-Virus-Induced One-Carbon Metabolism Drives B Cell Transformation

Warren lab (Blood 2019)

EFL1 mutations impair eIF6 release to cause Shwachman-Diamond syndrome.

Warren lab (eLife 2019)

Mechanism of completion of peptidyltransferase centre assembly in eukaryotes

Weekes lab (Cell Reports 2019)

Quantitative Temporal Proteomic Analysis of Vaccinia Virus Infection Reveals Regulation of Histone Deacetylases by an Interferon Antagonist

Rubinsztein lab (Nature Communications 2019)

Felodipine ameliorates neurodegeneration in mice

Sharpe lab (eLife 2019)

The receptor PTPRK selectively dephosphorylates junctional regulators

Ron lab (Nature Comm 2019)

MANF anatagonizes nucleotide exchange by the enodplasmic reticulum chaperone BiP

Robinson lab (Nature Comm. 2018)

AP-4 adaptor in autophagy

Ron lab (Nature Cell Biology)

Single particle trajectories reveal active endoplasmic reticulum luminal flow

Griffiths Lab (Immunity)

PIP5 Kinases Regulate Membrane Phosphoinositide and Actin Composition for Targeted Granule Secretion by Cytotoxic Lymphocytes

Rubinsztein lab (Cell Metabolism)

Leucine metabolism regulates mTORC1

Weekes lab (Cell Host Microbe 2018)

Global analysis of antiviral factors degraded by HCMV

Rubinsztein lab (Nature Comm. 2018)

Autophagy control in contact inhibition

Griffiths lab (Nature Immunol. 2018)

Single cell insights into T cell killing capacity 

Larrieu lab (Sci. Signalling 2018)

Transportin-1 targeted in progeria

Siniossoglou lab (Dev. Cell 2018)

A conserved mechanism for membrane phospholipid sensing

Larrieu lab (Nature Comm. 2018)

NAT10 inhibition increases healthspan of HGPS mice

St George-Hyslop lab (Cell 2018)

Phase separation control of FUS in neurodegeneration

Ron lab (J. Biol. Chem. 2018)

Inhibitor sensitivity of the eIF2a phosphatase revisited

Marciniak lab (ASC Nano. 2018)

Measuring microviscosity dynamics inside organelles

Rubinsztein lab (Dev. Cell 2018)

Recycling endosomes as a novel platform for autophagosome formation

Ron and Warren labs (Science 2018)

CryoEM analysis of integrated stress response

Nathan and Lehner labs (EMBO Rep. 2018)

Overlapping E3 ligase function in the ER