August 2011

Anne-Claude Gingras: probing phosphatase complexes

Using the power of proteomics, Gingras is providing new insights into phosphatase activity, regulation and interaction. 


Science-Focus,-Gingras---AT0811Rising science star Anne-Claude Gingras uses proteomics and other approaches to understand phosphatase biology and cell signaling networks.

 

There are two sides to every story, two halves that make a whole. In signal transduction, the cascade of protein activity that converts extracellular signals into an intracellular response, the complementary parts of the tale are the protein kinases and phosphatases – the complementary enzymes that drive signal transduction by adding and removing phosphate groups on target proteins.

As a graduate student in the mid 1990s, Anne-Claude Gingras was struck by the contrast between knowledge of these two enzymes. "We knew so much more about the kinase side of the story than about the phosphatases," she says. "That didn't seem right, so I wanted to investigate phosphatases further."

Now a senior investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto as well as an associate professor in the department of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto, Gingras has done just that – and more.

Not yet 40 years old, Gingras rapidly is establishing herself as an international leader in understanding how phosphatases are regulated and how they recognize their substrates. She's also become an innovator in the proteomics field, having developed experimental and computational tools that can better characterize dynamic protein-protein interactions.

It's quite a trajectory for someone who just 17 years ago was a bright but self-professed naïve graduate student who could barely speak or write English. But it's a path that anyone who has worked with Gingras will say is well deserved.

Cookbooks and circuitry

The first monumental step in this research journey occurred in 1994, when Gingras set foot at McGill University to begin graduate school. Though only a little more than 150 miles from her hometown on the outskirts of Québec city, the vibrant multicultural metropolis of Montreal seemed like another country to the young Québécois.

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Anne-Claude is a human dynamo! Great article on a great researcher and colleague! Jim Woodgett

 

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