Dr Susana Godinho

MSc, PhD
Centre: Molecular Oncology
Senior Lecturer
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QMUL Directory


Our research group focuses on understanding how centrosome amplification impacts tumour progression and how we can target cells with amplified centrosomes to develop new cancer therapies.

Research Details

Cancer cells often contain extra centrosomes. The centrosome is the main microtubule-organizing centre in animal cells, an essential component of the cytoskeleton. In normal cells, centrosome number is tightly regulated, however, cancer cells tend to have too many centrosomes, a characteristic associated with tumour aggressiveness. Yet little is known about the role of centrosome amplification in tumour progression.

We currently focus on breast cancer to investigate how centrosome amplification impacts tumorigenesis in a variety of model systems, including 2-D and 3-D cell culture, and mouse models. We also collaborate with clinical scientists to use primary human tissue samples from patients in order to validate our findings.

Current Projects:

1. How cancer cells ‘adapt’ to centrosome amplification

In order to avoid cell death, cancer cells need to cluster extra centrosomes into two poles during mitosis, enabling quasi-normal bipolar cell division. This observation has generated an enormous interest as it provides the basis for using the presence of extra centrosomes as a target for cancer therapies. We are currently developing novel strategies to assess how different cell types cope with extra centrosomes, allowing them to survive. We expect to use this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic strategies that specifically target cancer cells.

2. Impact of centrosome amplification in cancer cell physiology

Unlike normal cells that are very intolerant to centrosome amplification, cancer cells frequently maintain extra centrosomes. This observation suggests that centrosome amplification is advantageous for the tumour. To address this question we use a variety of model systems to investigate how extra centrosomes affect cell physiology. Since our work suggests that centrosome amplification promotes invasive behaviour, we are currently investigating signalling pathways that are important in invasion/metastasis.

3. Developing mouse models to study the impact of centrosome amplification in tumour progression in vivo.

We are collaborating with experts in mouse genetics to develop new model systems to investigate the impact of extra centrosomes in tumour progression in vivo.

Profile

  • 1999: MSc in Biology, specialisation in Microbiology and Genetics, University of Lisbon (Portugal)
  • 2006: PhD in Cellular Biology, Gulbenkian Institute of Science (Portugal) and Cambridge University (UK). Investigating the role of Polo kinase during mitosis.
  • 2006: Postdoctoral Fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer institute and Harvard Medical School (USA). Studying how cancer cells cluster extra centrosomes during mitosis.
  • 2010: Harvard-Portugal Programme Fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer institute and Harvard Medical School (USA). Investigating the role of centrosome amplification in cancer cell invasion using 3-D cell culture models.
  • 2013: Established Lab at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London (UK).

Funding

  • Lister Institute Research Prize
  • Marie Curie Actions - WHRI COFUND
  • MRC NIRG
  • Early Career Researcher Fellowship, Barts Cancer Institute
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Royal Society

Key Publications

Loss of E-cadherin provides tolerance to centrosome amplification in epithelial cancer cells (2017). Rhys A.D., Monteiro P., Smith C., Veghela M., Arnandis T., Kato T., Leitinger B., Sahai E., McAinsh A., CHarras G. and Godinho S.A. Journal of Cell Biology. PMID: 29133484

Studying centrosome function using three-dimensional cell cultures Arnandis T. and Godinho S.A. (2015). “Studying centrosome function using three-dimensional cell cultures”. Methods in Cell Biology, 129:37-50. PMID: 26175432

Oncogene-like induction of cellular invasion from centrosome amplification (2014). Godinho S.A. , Picone R., Burute M., Dagher R., Su Y., Leung C., Polyak K., Brugge J., Thery M. and Pellman D. (2014). Nature, 510(7503):167-71. PMID: 24739973

A mechanism linking extra centrosomes to chromosomal instability. N.J. Ganem, Godinho S.A. and D. Pellman (2009). Nature, 460(7252):278:82. PMID: 19506557


Further Publications

For additional publications, please click here.


Our research group focuses on understanding how centrosome amplification impacts tumour progression and how we can target cells with amplified centrosomes to develop new cancer therapies.

External Activities

  • Scientific committee member of the British Society of Cell Biology
  • Member of the American Association for Cancer Research
  • Associate faculty member of Faculty of 1000
  • Member of the America Society for Cell Biology

News

Alumni

PhD Students: Dr Alex Rhys

Masters Students: Ms Aman Verdheshka, Mr Mohamed Yusuf, Ms Soraia Momemi and Mr Tim Dunn

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