Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program

Lab head: Des Richardson
Location: D06 - Blackburn Building

Iron is essential for life and growth. While it is well known that iron deficiency can lead to anaemia it is generally not appreciated that iron is critical for the growth of all cells, particularly cancer cells. The Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program is concerned with understanding the basic processes of how tumour cells utilise and transport iron. This knowledge will lead to the development of therapies that can selectively starve tumour cells of iron and inhibit their growth. In addition, we are studying the mechanisms involved in iron loading in the inherited diseases I2-thalassaemia and Friedreich's ataxia.

Lab members: Head: D Richardson; RFellows: D Kalinowski, D Lovejoy, Y Suryo Rahmanto, D Zhang, D Zhang; PFellows: C Austin, K Dixon, P Jansson, Z Kovacevic, D Lane, K Loh, M Lok, P Quach, V Richardson, Y Yu; RAssistant: S Bal, S Chikhani, M Huang, E Lim, P Obeidy, N Pantarat, F Saletta, D Sharp.

Investigating cellular response to iron-depletion by examining the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signalling pathway

Primary supervisor: Des Richardson

Understanding signalling in cancer cells is important for understanding their belligerent nature and for developing novel therapeutics.

Iron participates in many essential biological processes and its utility stems from its redox activity. Iron-depletion can cause multiple effects including inhibition of the iron-containing enzyme, ribonucleotide reductase which is important for DNA synthesis, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Recently, the role of signalling pathways in the regulation of cellular iron metabolism is becoming increasingly recognized.

The aim of this project is to elucidate the molecular signalling pathway involved in iron-depletion by examining the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signalling pathway which functions to link extracellular signals to regulate diverse cellular processes.

The project will involve multiple techniques including cell cultures, RNA transfection, reverse-transcriptional-PCR, Western blotting, cell proliferation assays, etc. The results will be vital for our understanding of cellular signalling aspects of iron-deficiency and the molecular pharmacology of iron chelation.

Feel free to contact Prof. Des Richardson or Dr. Yu Yu ( to have a chat about whether the project matches your interests

Discipline: Pathology
Co-supervisors: Yu Yu
Keywords: Iron Metabolism, Pharmacology, cellular signalling