The Department of Biomedicine
BBB and NBS seminar

BBB webinar: Fergal Michael O'Farrell

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BBB and NBS seminar

Using Drosophila to model cancer development

Fergal Michael O'Farrell

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen

Many of today’s well-established cancer-causing mutations are in genes first described in Drosophila melanogaster emerging from screens designed to discover developmentally crucial genes. This is in part due to the ease of screening for mutations in the Drosophila model together with the high degree of conservation (75% of disease related genes) between the mammalian and fly genome.

I have worked with Drosophila for 20 years, primarily as a model to study developmental processes (growth, cell cycle regulation and neurogenesis) but direction of the work took a natural shift towards cancer-related research around 10 years ago when I started characterizing a receptor tyrosine kinase related to mammalian RET (REarranged during Transfection) [1].

In the coming talk I will introduce myself, the flies and the past work briefly before moving into more current research. I will finish with a description of current models and projects using techniques based on the GAL4 and QF binary expression systems. Throughout the talk I aim to demonstrate the usefulness of the Drosophila model, which has now established a foothold here at the HiB in Bergen, and that you may be interested in using.


1. O'Farrell F, Wang S, Katheder N, Rusten TE, Samakovlis C (2013) Two-tiered control of epithelial growth and autophagy by the insulin receptor and the ret-like receptor, stitcher. PLoS Biol 11:e1001612


Chairperson: James B. Lorens, Department of Biomedicine