Canada Research Professor in 
Developmental Genetics and Disease

Eve Stringham
Vice Provost, Research and Graduate Studies
Former Canada Research Chair in Developmental Genetics and Disease

Trinity Western University
Tier 2 - January 1, 2007, renewed 2012, (2007-2016)
Natural Sciences and Engineering

Research Involves

Using genetic model systems to understand the role of cell signaling pathways in nervous system and muscle development, and in growth and aging.

Research Relevance

The research is providing insights into the causes and possible cures of human diseases such as cancer and diabetes as well as neurodegenerative disorders.

Getting the Message: How Cells Respond to External Signals

As the population ages, the incidence of chronic and life threatening illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's is on the rise. All of these diseases are caused by defects in cell signalling; the mechanism by which cells detect and respond to environmental stimuli. Fortunately, the human genome project and the genome projects of several other animals have provided developmental biologists with an unprecedented "tool-box."

Roughly 70 percent of the mutated genes that cause human diseases - such as cancer and diabetes, as well as neurodegenerative disorders - are also found in the simple worm Caenorhabditis elegans, making this animal an ideal model for developmental biologist Dr. Stringham's research into the genetic basis of cell signalling and its role in normal development and disease.

Dr. Stringham's lab at Trinity Western University is currently the site of some exciting work into cell signalling pathways. As a former Canada Research Professor in Developmental Genetics and Disease, Dr. Stringham is using genetics and cell biology to answer such important questions about cell signalling pathways, as: How do signals steer a growing nerve cell along the correct path to its destination? And, how does cell signalling control aging?

Dr. Stringham has identified a set of genes in C. elegans that are responsible for linking extra-cellular signals to rearrangements in the shape, growth, and migration of nerve and muscle cells in the worm. Several of the corresponding human genes are known to be mutated in some types of cancer, demonstrating the relevance of this model in understanding human diseases. In addition, Dr. Stringham is studying how insulin-like signalling controls the cell's response to stress and aging.

Dr. Stringham's research is not only contributing to our knowledge of the role of cell signalling in normal development, but also teaching us about the molecular basis of many diseases, and so offering hope for new targets for therapeutic intervention.