Dr Rita Cha
Senior North West Cancer Research Lecturer
Location: Brambell, 3rd Floor, Room 414.2
- Group Leader, National Institute for Medical Research, MRC London
Other external positions currently held
- Member of the North West Cancer Research (NWCR) Scientific Committee
- BS, MIT; PhD MIT
- Cancer cell metabolism, mitochondrial function
Hobbies & External Interests
- Reading, playing the piano, travelling
- “Cancer cells show uncontrolled growth, reproducing themselves over and over again within the body. We are investigating how cancer cells make the building blocks necessary for generating a new cancer cell. Bangor University has a number of outstanding scientists working on various aspects of cancer biology”.
Previous areas of research and key findings
- Previously, our research focused on genome instability, a main of cancer and birth defects. We identified that certain regions of the chromosomes, named “Replication Slow Zones (RSZs)”, are more likely break than others, thereby more likely to contribute to genome instability. Another area of research has been functions of ATM and ATR proteins. In humans, inactivation of ATM and ATR leads Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T) and Seckle syndrome, respectively. They are progressive genetic disorders characterized by neuronal degeneration, cancer, microcephaly, growth retardation, and infertility. We identified two meiosis specific functions of ATM/ATR, providing mechanistic insight underlying infertility associated with A-T.
Practical applications/impact of findings to date
- Our research is a basic fundamental research with a long term implication(s) in prevention and treatment of cancer, birth-defects, and metabolic disorders.
Outline current areas of research and potential practical applications/impact
- Our current research focus is to understand the genetic and molecular bases of cancer cell metabolism. We hope to find a way to stop cancer cells reproducing themselves by preventing the production of the building blocks needed for new cancer cells.
Who funds/has funded your research?
- Medical Research Council, North West Cancer Research, Bangor University
Facilities/Equipment/Labs that you use in your research:
- Real time PCR, Singer ROTOR high throughput screen, FACS (Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting), Immuno-fluorescence microscopy.
Strengths of Bangor’s Research environment in your area
- Experts working on interdependent topics all related to cancer, fostering a stimulating environment. Access to state of the art equipment.
- Current PhD student: Erik Waskiewicz
- Four successful PhD supervisions (2007-2012).
- Undergraduate Modules: MSE1017, MSE2021, MSE3013
- Metabolism, Cancer cell metabolism, ATM/ATR, Mec1/Tel1, Signal transduction, Mitochondria, Autophagy, dNTP, ATP
- Earp C, Rowbotham S, Merenyi G, Chabes A, and Cha RS. (2015) S phase block following MEC1ATR inactivation occurs without severe dNTP depletion. Biol Open. Nov 24: pii: bio.015347. doi: 10.1242/bio.015347.
- Cauwood JD, Johnson AL, Widger A, Cha RS. (2013) Recombinogenic conditions influence partner choice in spontaneous mitotic recombination. PLoS Genet. Nov;9(11):e1003931
- Carballo JA, Johnson AL, Sedgwick SG, Cha RS.(2008) Phosphorylation of the axial element protein Hop1 by Mec1/Tel1 ensures meiotic interhomolog recombination. Cell. Mar 7;132(5):758-70.
- Cha RS, Kleckner N. ATR homolog Mec1 promotes fork progression, thus averting breaks in replication slow zones. (2002) Science. Jul 26;297(5581):602-6