Scientist in the Lab


Research in the Papa lab is broadly focused on the understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating programmed cell death and survival. The fields of programmed cell death have become the foundation of biomedical research, central to both fundamental biology and the understanding of a broad range of human diseases ranging from cancer to inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. At the molecular level, the group focus on the post-translational modifications, the study of the covalent modification of proteins during or after protein biosynthesis. Most of our efforts to date have concentrated on phosphorylation, which is one of the most fundamental types of post-translational modification in eukaryotic cells. We are interested in the regulation and activity of a group of serine/threonine (Ser/Thr) protein kinases known as c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs), master regulators of a large variety of cellular functions including apoptosis, differentiation, cell survival and proliferation.

When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together

(Barack Obama)

Our Research Explained

cell division.jpg

....for 'specialists'

We focus our research on understanding  the molecular mechanisms, regulation and role of apoptosis (i.e. programmed cell death) in pathogenesis, and translating these insights in therapeutic concepts and, if possible, novel treatments for human disease including cancer, inflammation and infectious disease.


....for 'general audience'

Cancer is one of the scenarios where too little cell death occurs, resulting in malignant cells that will not die. Cancer cells are therefore cells that cheat death - rather than growing old and dying, as healthy cells do, they continue to grow and divide, changing their metabolism to continue proliferating throughout the body.

Research Topics

Embryonic Stem Cells

Programmed Cell Death

  • TNFa-induced apoptosis

  • Chemotherapeutic-induced apoptosis/necrosis

  • JNK-mediated apoptosis


Cancer Metabolism

  • Aerobic glycolysis

  • Cellular metabolism

  • JNK-mediated regulation of PKM2

Figure 1 - 2015MCO0442-R1.jpg

Signal Transduction

  • NF-kB-mediated control of JNK activity

  • PARP14-control of cell survival

  • JNK-mediated phosphorylation of PKM2

Transgenic Animals

Pre-clinical models of human disease

  • Models of tissue injury and repair

  • Tissue regeneration models

  • Cancer models

  • Xenograft models

Vitamins and pills

Pre-clinical Drug Studies

Effectiveness of novel PARP inhibitors in pre-clinical models of disease

Pipetting Samples

Drug Discovery

  • PARP inhibitors

  • JNK inhibitors

  • Modulator of cell survival