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Catherine Pears

Old Members’ Tutorial Fellow in Biochemistry; Associate Professor of Biochemistry.

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Contact information

Email: catherine.pears@univ.ox.ac.uk

Email: catherine.pears@univ.ox.ac.uk


I am the tutor for Biochemistry, which admits four undergraduates per year. I help these students throughout the course, providing advice and arranging tutorials with my colleagues who are experts in other fields. I teach molecular and cellular biochemistry and genetics to first year Biochemistry undergraduates, as well as first year Biomedical Scientists and Medical Students. As part of the second and third year Biochemistry course I give tutorials in molecular and genetic methods, signal transduction, cell cycle control and the molecular basis of cancer.


My research focuses on how cells respond to the external environment by activating signalling pathways involving chemical modification of pre-existing proteins in order to change their activity, in particular modification by phosphorylation, ubiquitinylation and ADP-ribosylation. We exploit molecular genetic, biochemical and cell biology techniques to study modifications linked to disease as an increased understanding leads to potential for novel, targeted treatments. Pluripotent stem cells have great medical potential as they are able to divide in culture but can be induced by extracellular factors to become different, defined cell types. These could be reintroduced into the body to replace damaged or diseased tissue. I am interested in understanding how to drive stem cells to generate only the required cell type by inflluencing the signalling pathways and resulting protein modifications which control the expression of genes that define different cell types. This understanding will enable us to increase the efficiency of generating a required cell type and increase the therapeutic potential while minimising side effects. Damage to our genetic information, DNA, also leads to a defined set of protein modifications and understanding how these recruit and activate the proteins that repair damaged DNA will help us to prevent accumulation of mutations and generation of diseases such as cancer. We also study the modifications of proteins involved in activation of human platelets with implications for treatment of bleeding disorders and thrombotic disease caused by inappropriate platelet function.

Articles & publications


  • Thrive in Biochemsitry and Molecular Biology. Cox, Harris and Pears. Oxford University Press 2012


  • Hsu, DW., Chubb, J., Muramoto, T., Pears, C*. and Mahadevan, L.* (2012) Dynamic acetylation of Lysine-4 trimethylated Histone H3 and H3 variant biology in a simple multicellular eukaryote. Nucl. Acids Res. In Press *Joint corresponding authors
  • Pears, C., Couto, C., Wang, H-Y., Borer, C., Kiely, R., and Lakin, N (2012) The Role of ADP-ribosylation in Regulating DNA Double Strand Break Repair Cell Cycle 11, 48-56
  • Couto, C., Wang, H-Y., Green, J., Kiely R., Siddaway, R., Borer, C., Pears, C. and Lakin N (2011) PARP regulates non-homologous end-joining through retention of Ku at double strand breaks. J. Cell Biol. 194, 367-375
  • Unsworth, A., Smith, H., Gissen P., Watson, S.P. and Pears, C. (2011) Submaximal inhibition of protein kinase C restores ADP-induced dense granule secretion in platelets in the presence of Calcium. J. Biol. Chem. 286, 21073-82
  • Hsu, DW., Kiely, R., Couto, C., Hudson, J., Borer, C., Pears, CJ* and Lakin, N.D*. (2011) Double strand break repair pathway choice in Dictyostelium. J. Cell Sci 124, 1655 -63. *Joint corresponding authors
  • Greene D., Bloomfield, G., Skelton, J., Ivens, A., Pears, C. Targets for Cdk8 in Dictyostelium. (2011) BMC Dev. Biol.11, 2
  • Greene DM, Hsu D-W, Pears CJ (2010) Control of Cyclin C Levels during Development of Dictyostelium. PLoS ONE 5: e10543
  • Pears, C., Thornber, K., Auger, A., Hughes, C., Protty, M., Grigielska, B., Pearce, A. and Watson, S. (2008). Differential roles of PKC novel isoforms, PKCδ and PKCε, in mouse and human platelets. PLoS ONE 3, e3793

A day in the life of a Biochemistry student

Biochemistry is unique, combining scientific fact with the ability to read widely and communicate fluently. Most time is devoted to tutorial work such as first-year problem sheets.



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