To determine what causes certain diseases, scientists need to understand the cellular events that go wrong. Dr. William Derry, Canada Research Chair in Animal Models of Human Disease, is using the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans to develop models of human disease, such as cancer and cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs). CCMs are abnormal blood vessels in the brain or spinal cord that can cause neurological symptoms.
Derry and his research team are using cutting-edge tools of genetics, high-resolution microscopy, and proteomics (the large-scale study of proteins) to understand how these diseases progress. They are also collaborating internationally with other leading researchers to screen for drugs that suppress the cellular defects caused by disease genes. They hope their findings will lead to significant advances in our ability to understand and treat human disease.