Dr Cynthia Andoniadou is a lecturer in the Department of Craniofacial Development and Stem Cell Biology at King’s College London. Cynthia undertook her PhD research at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research and was awarded her PhD in Anatomy and Developmental Biology from UCL. She joined the group of Prof. Juan Pedro Martinez-Barbera at the UCL Institute of Child Health in 2005, working on anterior forebrain development and later, on pituitary development and disease. After joining KCL in 2013 she was awarded an MRC New Investigator Research Grant to investigate the function and regulation of the pituitary stem cell compartment in mammals.
Cynthia’s group aims to understand better how organ homeostasis is controlled, with the view to manipulate this in disease states. Perturbations in this process, which can occur at any point during the lifespan and are frequent during ageing, can lead to functional decline of tissues or abnormal growth and tumours. A key focus is the anterior pituitary gland, a primary endocrine organ essential for normal physiology, implicated in many human conditions.
Cynthia’s previous research demonstrated that pituitary stem cells contribute new specialised cells throughout life. The group has identified signaling mechanisms that influence activity of pituitary stem cells and now seeks to determine the exact function of one of these pathways, the Hippo kinase cascade. Combining genetic tools and pharmacological approaches to alter the levels of signalling will uncover whether stem cell activity can be reinstated during ageing or organ failure and conversely dampened during tumorigenesis.
The work funded by the Lister Prize will focus on manipulating signalling in stem cells of the pituitary gland. It will enable the Andoniadou Lab to generate novel genetic tools to model human conditions and provide further research support for the group.