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David Fernig

David FernigQ. NAME

A. David Fernig.

Q. JOB TITLE

A. Professor of Biological Chemistry.

Q. PLACE OF WORK

A. Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool.

Q. WHAT DO YOU DO?

A. My research looks at the space between cells. This is filled with a matrix of molecules, which control how cells communicate. Cell communication is responsible for the development of all cancers and precancerous inflammatory conditions, as well as how the body develops from a single fertilised egg. My research aims to understand the molecular structures that control communication in healthy and diseased cells. Meeting this substantial challenge is only possible by drawing on a breadth of science, spanning biochemistry, molecular biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, as well as working with scientists from all over the world.

Q. HOW WILL THIS HELP TO BEAT CANCER?

A. Most cancers affecting adults grow relatively slowly. Drugs that target fast dividing cells are not very effective. In contrast, drugs that target specific processes in cell communication have proven to be far more successful, though there are relatively few of these. The space between cells provides a rich seam of potential drug targets and biomarkers, but it is also the most complex molecular area of biology. Unravelling this complexity is the key to identifying future targets, which will allow us to develop effective cancer treatments, which control cell communication.

Q. HOW DOES NORTH WEST CANCER RESEARCH SUPPORT YOUR WORK?

A. North West Cancer Research gave an endowment to the University of Liverpool in 1991 I was awarded one of the three Research Lectureships funded by this endowment; progress is evaluated every 5 years. This has given me the freedom necessary to pursue a long-term, curiosity-driven scientific ambition, which is funded by a very wide range of national and international organisations.

Q. WHAT DRIVES OR INSPIRES YOU?

A. Curiosity and improving the human condition.

Q. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

A. A mix of science and family activities.

Q. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SAYING?

A. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. A quote from Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics.

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