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Catherine Porcher

PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons)

Associate Professor of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Transcriptional and epigentic control of blood cell fate determination

My research interests lie in cell fate mechanisms and, in particular, in the specification of blood stem cells during development.  I received my PhD from University of Paris VII, where I studied red blood cell differentiation through the regulation of genes involved in the haem biosynthetic pathway. I then joined the lab of Stuart Orkin at Harvard University for my post-doctoral training. There, I developed a broader interest in haematopoiesis and unveiled the essential function of the regulator SCL/TAL1 in the development of all blood lineages, placing it at the apex of the haematopoietic transcriptional hierarchy. In 1999, I joined the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit as a principal investigator.  

Currently, my group investigates the transcriptional regulation of the earliest events controlling blood specification from mesoderm through integration of molecular, structural and cellular approaches. We have recently demonstrated how a single transcriptional regulator coordinates activating and repressive mechanisms in multilineage-primed progenitors to promote blood cell fate determination whilst preventing development of alternative lineages. This work will lead to a better understanding of fundamental biological processes that, when corrupted, can lead to pathologies such as cancer. Our work will also contribute to the development of protocols supporting the generation of blood stem cells in vitro, thereby offering novel opportunities to treat inherited blood diseases.  

As a woman and mother of two, I am keen to support the career of young female scientists and chair the WIMM Women in Science committee. I am also enrolled in the RDM mentoring scheme.

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