Professor Duncan Baird

Tackling telomeres – the long and short of it

Professor Duncan Baird is the research lead at the Institute of Cancer and Genetics at Cardiff University. He and his team are studying special DNA structures found inside our cells, known as telomeres, and the role that they play in cancer.

Telomeres are the caps at the ends of chromosomes - the long strings of DNA inside our cells that contain genes. They’re a bit like the plastic cap on the end of a shoelace.

Every time a cell divides in two, its telomeres get shorter.  Eventually they become so short that they don’t work properly, signalling to the cell that it should stop growing and multiplying. But in cancer cells, the telomeres can be rebuilt. This means that they can carry on growing, effectively becoming immortal.

Professor Baird and his team are studying the genes and molecules that enable telomeres to grow back in cancer cells. They hope to use this knowledge to develop new treatment approaches that switch them off, stopping cancer cells in their tracks.

Read more about Professor Baird's research here.

All cancer types
Cancer biology

Institute of Cancer and Genetics, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff

Lab website