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Research groups

Metadherin, a novel regulator of glucocorticoid action

Research groups

Toryn Poolman

PhD


Postdoctoral Research Associate

All human physiology is under the influence of our internal biological clock. Cortisol, a hormone released from the adrenal glands peaks in the early morning (the wakening hormone) and is virtually absent in the evening. Corticosteroids (collective name for steroid hormones produced by the adrenal gland, including glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids) have powerful anti-inflammatory and metabolic effects, which are the template for synthetic steroids used to treat inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. The glucocorticoid receptor is the cellular target of these drugs, it is found in the cytoplasm of the cell and when activated by glucocorticoid it travels to the nucleus of the cell, binding DNA. The receptor activates metabolic pathways and dampens inflammation. However, glucocorticoids have a major drawback as they also cause some potentially serious side effects. My research focuses on trying to understand how steroids work and how they interact with our body clock.

We recently carried out a study to understand how the body clock might be altered in chronic disease. This study identified new rhythms of lipid metabolism in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, particularly of the ceramide class (waxy molecules known to be important in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases).

In my research I use system wide approaches to study disease and drug actions, rather than measure single metabolites, genes, or proteins. My interests are in using techniques to measure changes in all genes or proteins, using next generation sequencing or mass spectrometry. I am interested in all aspects of data science, particularly machine learning and other techniques to understand complex datasets.

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