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2019 Hooke Medal of the British Society of Cell Biology

Press release issued: 14 February 2019

Eugenia Piddini, Professor of Cell Biology and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, has been awarded the 2019 Hooke Medal in recognition of her outstanding contribution to cell biology and as an emerging leader in this field.

Her lab studies cell competition, resulting in fit cells (winners) being able to colonise tissues as they kill and replace less-fit cells (losers). Her group is exploring how cell competition could be used for therapeutic strategies in regenerative medicine and cancer. The labs goal is to understand the impact of cell competition on tissues and the mechanisms that cells use to compete. To achieve this the group combine two complementary approaches: studies in Drosophila to capture the complexity of these interactions in vivo, and mammalian cell culture to follow the dynamics of cell competition, including by live imaging. Recent work using the adult fly intestine showed that in adult homeostatic tissues, cells compete, and healthy cells eliminate sub fit cells by apoptosis. The lab has also found that cell competition leads to healthy tissue expansion, by promoting stem cell proliferation and increased symmetric selfrenewal. Her discovery of mechanical cell competition – a new mode of competition where cell killing is triggered by mechanical compression – is considered a breakthrough in the field.

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