I am currently the César Milstein Chair of Cancer Biology at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology. I completed my PhD in the Department of Biochemistry at Imperial College and then moved to San Francisco for my post-doctoral studies in the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry at UCSF. I moved back to the UK to start up my own laboratory at The Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, working there for 15 years before moving to Oxford in 2009/10 to take up my current position.
The research in my group is focused on understanding the mechanics of cell division, and how this process may go wrong in cancer cells. In particular, we are trying to understand how a tiny organelle, called the centrosome, assembles and functions at the molecular level—usually using the simple fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Centrosomes are important organisers of the cell, and they are particularly interesting because each cell is born with just a single centrosome that must be precisely duplicated once, and only once, before a cell divides. The two centrosomes then organise the poles of the mitotic spindle, which then segregates the two duplicated copies of the DNA, thus ensuring that the two new daughter cells each inherit a complete copy of the genetic information. Cancer cells often have too many centrosomes, and this seems to play an important part in not only generating cancer, but also in allowing cancer cells to metastasis to other parts of the body and to develop resistance to cancer therapies.
Feng, Z., Caballe, A., Wainman, A., Johnson, S., Haensele, A.F.M., Cottee, M.A., Conduit, P.T., Lea, S.M., and Raff, J.W. (2017). Structural basis for mitotic centrosome assembly in flies. Cell 169, 1078-1089.
Raff, J.W. and Basto, R. (2017). Centrosome amplification and cancer: a question of sufficiency. Dev Cell. 40,217-218.
Novak Z.A., Wainman A., Gartenmann L., Raff J.W. (2016). Cdk1 Phosphorylates Drosophila Sas-4 to Recruit Polo to Daughter Centrioles and Convert Them to Centrosomes. Dev Cell. 37, 545-57.
Conduit P.T., Wainman A., and Raff, J.W. (2015). Centrosome function and assembly in animal cells. Nature Reviews in Cell and Mol. Biol. 10, 611-624.