Liverpool Centre for Mathematics in Healthcare

Seminars - Title TBC: Professor Albena Dinkova-Kostova (University of Dundee)


* To be re-scheduled *


Biography: Professor Dinkova-Kostova is Professor of Chemical Biology in the department of Cellular Medicine at Dundee University, having joined the University’s Medical Research Institute in 2007 as a Lecturer and Research Councils UK Academic Fellow. Her work is focused on the mechanism of induction of cytoprotective proteins through the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway, and the chemistry of inducers.

She is also Adjunct Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University, USA, and was the recipient of the 2011 Arthur C. Neish Young Investigator Award of the Phytochemical Society of North America.


Research: Protection against cancer in animal models can be accomplished by induction of the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway, which controls the gene expression of numerous enzymes that catalyze versatile reactions collectively leading to detoxification of electrophiles and oxidants. However, the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway is often upregulated in established tumors, where it contributes to cancer cell survival, metabolic adaptation, chemo- and radioresistance.

The expression of Nrf2-dependent genes can be elevated by a wide variety of pharmacological agents termed “inducers”, some of which are present in the human diet. Inducers react with specific cysteine residues of the sensor protein Keap1, thereby allowing transcription factor Nrf2 to translocate to the nucleus and activate transcription. The discrete events in the regulation of the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway and the mechanism of action of Nrf2 inducers are a major objective of the research, which also investigates the regulation of the heat shock response, another cellular cytoprotective pathway, and the ability of small molecules, which can inhibit Hsp90 to interfere with cancer cell proliferation.

In addition to biochemical studies in various in vitro and cellular systems, she also employs in vivo models with a focus on models of UV radiation-induced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and colorectal cancer. The knowledge obtained from these models will allow the design of clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of Nrf2 modulators for cancer prevention and treatment in high-risk populations.