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Johanna Michl

PhD


BIOGRAPHY

I am a cancer cell biologist with a background in molecular biology, pharmacology, and analytical chemistry. I obtained my doctorate in natural product chemistry and pharmacology from University College London in 2014. My PhD research in Prof. Michael Heinrich's group was centered on natural product pharmacology and chemistry. More specifically, I was researching aristolochic acids, and their effects on kidney toxicity and carcinogenesis. During my PhD I was selected as a participant in the Yale-UCL exchange programme. Within this programme, I spent three months as a visiting researcher in Prof. Yung-Chi Cheng’s laboratory at the Yale School of Medicine.

In 2014, I moved to the Department of Oncology, University of Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Madalena Tarsounas’ laboratory. My research focused on understanding the causes of genomic instability and the cellular mechanisms responding to it. More specifically, I investigated the roles of the Fanconi anemia pathway in DNA repair and replication.

Recently, I joined Prof. Pawel Swietach’s laboratory at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics (DPAG) to work on acid handling and pH signalling in cancers.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Currently, I am working on a five-year programme focusing on acid metabolism in cancers. The programme is funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant and is carried out at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics as well as the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) with Professor Sir Walter Bodmer.

Due to their increased rates of metabolism, cancer cells produce large quantities of acid compared to normal cells. Essentially all biological processes are pH-sensitive, and therefore the regulation of acid/base chemistry is essential for cell survival. Interference with acid metabolism in cancers provides an ideal strategy for the therapeutic management of tumour growth. This could lead to the development of new cancer therapies, which may be superior to currently used ones.

 

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