Charles Streuli

Professor of Cell Biology

Charles Streuli is elucidating the involvement of extracellular matrix and integrin signalling in normal mammary gland biology and early breast cancer.

Charles obtained his first degree in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, and PhD at the University of Leicester. This was followed by postdoctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London, and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. He was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Science by the Wellcome Trust to set up his own laboratory at the University of Manchester in 1992. Charles jointly established the Manchester Breast Centre, a pan-Manchester organisation uniting basic and clinical scientists working on mammary gland biology and breast cancer in 2005, and co-founded the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit at the University of Manchester in 2009. He was appointed to the position of Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research from 2009 to 2014. Charles was elected to become a Fellow of the Society of Biology in 2013.

Charles’ scientific achievements have been to discover mechanisms by which cell-matrix interactions control developmental morphogenesis, survival and proliferation, as well as tissue-specific gene expression in epithelia. By focusing on breast biology, he revealed the central role of integrin adhesion receptors in mammalian cell behavior, providing a general framework for understanding epithelial tissue development and function. He discovered that integrins control epithelial differentiation, identifying a molecular pathway linking them with tissue-specific gene expression. His laboratory also revealed that cell-matrix interactions determines apoptosis by controlling Bax trafficking between cytosol and mitochondrial. Charles’ laboratory also discovered that integrins determine the orientation of epithelial polarity in the breast, and that this occurs via endocytosis of apical components away from cell-matrix adhesions. His laboratory is newly focussing on the small GTPase, Rac1, in both breast development and cancer, and he is developing completely novel areas of research, both into the links between circadian clocks and breast biology, and also how the micro-mechanics of the tissue has a central role in starting breast cancer in people.