Mariann Bienz works at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK) where she studies the molecular mechanisms underpinning Wnt signalling. This is an ancient cell communication pathway that controls embryonic development and adult stem cells in all animals and, if incorrectly activated, can cause cancer. Her discovery of nuclear components that operate transcriptional switches in response to the Wnt signal may reveal new therapeutic targets for treating cancer.
Her early work at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) examined how developmental genes are transcribed in response to positional cues in the embryo. Here she pioneered the use of the Drosophila midgut as a model system, and identified the role of the Wnt pathway in patterning the midgut epithelium during endoderm induction.
Her work has been recognized by her election as a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Member of EMBO and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
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