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Keith Spriggs

Associate Professor in Gene Regulation, Faculty of Science

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Biography

I was awarded my PhD from the Division of Genetics, University of Nottingham in 2000, following which I held post-doctoral positions in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Leicester, where I developed my interest in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. After further post-doctoral work in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at UC Davis, California, and the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, I was appointed as a Lecturer in Gene Regulation here in the School of Pharmacy in November 2006.

Summary of Academic Career

PhD Structure and evolution of the vertebrate transcription elongation factor TFIIS, with Dr Garry Morgan, University of Nottingham.

2001-2004 Postdoctoral Research Associate: Department of Biochemistry, University of Leicester, with Professor Anne Willis. Funded by BBSRC. Project aims were to investigate some of the mechanisms behind internal ribosome entry.

2004-2006 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Nottingham, UK & University of California, Davis, USA. Funded by the Wellcome Trust.

2006-2012 Lecturer in Gene Regulation, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham.

2012-present Associate Professor in Gene Regulation, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham

Teaching Summary

I currently convene three year three MPharm modules B33CAN (Cancers) and B33CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicines) and the MSci Biologics module. My aim is to continue to develop and… read more

Research Summary

My research group is interested in developing multidisciplinary approaches to study gene regulation in diseases such as cancers and Alzheimer's disease. Our aim is to identify and characterise drug… read more

Selected Publications

Pharmacy School Building, East Drive, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD

I currently convene three year three MPharm modules B33CAN (Cancers) and B33CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicines) and the MSci Biologics module. My aim is to continue to develop and coordinate a varied and stimulating range of teaching methods which foster genuine lifelong interests in these important, but frequently difficult, aspects of pharmacy and pharmaceutical research.

I also contribute to B31BPH (Being a Pharmacist), B31PRO, B32PRO, B33PRO, B34PRO (Professional Competencies), B32SHP(Sexual Health and Pregnancy), B32PAI (Pain), B33RPW (Research Projects), B34PLM (Pharmacy Leadership and Management), B34IP1 (Integrated Pharmaceutical and Patient Care).

I have a keen interest in developing animation and computer games to complement more traditional types of teaching. I strongly believe that this can have significant beneficial impact in the teaching and learning of molecular and cellular biology, where visualisation and integration of key concepts can be difficult for some students. With my colleague Vibhu Solanki we have recently delivered a summer school for pharmacy students to explore some of these ideas, funded by the faculty.

Current Research

My research group is interested in developing multidisciplinary approaches to study gene regulation in diseases such as cancers and Alzheimer's disease. Our aim is to identify and characterise drug targets which may provide new options for the treatment and prevention of these diseases, and, in collaboration with our colleagues, develop strategies to deliver targeted therapeutics.

We currently have projects exploring the coordinated regulation of genes involved in Alzheimer's disease, and have recently identified an approach for simultaneously down-regulating several important Alzheimer's associated genes (manuscript submitted for publication).

We are also interested in how the growth factor EGFR is regulated. An important feature of EGFR in cancers is its continued activity under hypoxic conditions. We have recently identified a mechanism enabling hypoxic EGFR expression and we are currently developing approaches to target this using pH responsive polymers. In parallel, we are also looking at the post-transcriptional changes mediated by EGFR activation.

Drug resistance in cancers is a serious barrier to successful treatments. One of our projects is exploring the mechanisms behind irinotecan resistance in colorectal cancer, and how we might be able to prevent or reverse this.

In an exciting new collaboration with colleagues at the Universities of Cape Coast and Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana, we are currently exploring the use of West African plant products against cancers and inflammatory diseases. Traditional medicinal plants remain a valuable source of pharmaceuticals, and we hope to systematically explore the potential of West African traditional medicines for active compounds. To support this, we have established an African Plants Database at www.africanplants.ac.uk

Past Research

Previously, the focus of my research has been the RNA helicase eIF4A, the most abundant eukaryotic translation initiation factor. eIF4A is required for maximal expression of mRNAs with structured 5' UTRs, yet there remains much to understand about its mechanisms of action and its effects on global gene regulation. The observation that genes involved in important cell regulatory processes tend to have long structured 5' UTRs provides a obvious though largely unexplored route through which eIF4A could coordinately regulate gene expression. We know that eIF4A expression, and expression of its inhibitor Pdcd4, are important in cell growth and differentiation but the specific targets are largely unknown.

By using translational profiling techniques in combination with multiple approaches to compromising eIF4A function, we were able to identify novel targets of eIF4A mediated gene control, and better understand the processes involved. As eIF4A is an important protein in cancer and other diseases, we are also interested in the potential of eIF4A inhibitors as novel therapeutic agents.

School of Pharmacy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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