Postdoctoral Research Scientist 1988-90
Following her PhD at the University of Cambridge, Dr Ruth Murrell-Lagnado joined the Department of Human Anatomy in 1988 to undertake her first postdoctoral fellowship with Dr Aviva Tolkovsky. With Dr Tolkovsky, she worked on nerve growth factor signalling in sympathetic neurons and the role of voltage-gated calcium channels and calcium transients in survival and neurite outgrowth. Their work produced three notable papers in the Journal of Cell Biology (volume 110, 1990), Cell Regulation (volume 2, 1991) and the European Journal of Neuroscience (volume 5, 1993).
After leaving Oxford in 1990, Dr Murrell-Lagnado was awarded a Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) postdoctoral fellowship to work with Professor Richard Aldrich at Stanford University on the ‘ball-and-chain’ mechanism of inactivation of the newly cloned Shaker potassium channel. In 1993, she returned to Cambridge to take up a lectureship in the Department of Pharmacology. Initially, her main interest continued to be structure-function relationships within the potassium channel family. Later, her research shifted to the recently cloned family of purinergic receptor ion channels (P2X), and the majority of her papers are focused on the cell biology and regulation of P2X purinergic receptors. This family of receptors have many important physiological roles throughout the body, and have an important role in pathophysiologies associated with inflammation. The Murrell-Lagnado Lab was the first to show the dynamic trafficking of these receptors between the cell surface and intracellular compartments (Journal of Neuroscience, 22, 2002), and to highlight a role for these receptors within endolysosomal compartments in addition to their established role at the plasma membrane (Journal of Cell Science, 120, 2007). Their control of lysosome traffic is important in functions that range from airway secretion to breast cancer progression. Her lab also characterised splice variants of the P2X7 receptor (Journal of Cell Science, 125, 2012) and identified cholesterol as a key regulator of P2X7 receptor activation and sensitisation (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 289, 2014).
In 2015, Dr Murrell-Lagnado moved from Cambridge to a Readership in Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, where she is also associated with the Sussex Drug Discovery Centre. She has also served on the Editorial board for the Journal of Physiology and Journal of General Physiology.