UCD Conway Institute
Dublin 4, Ireland
phone: +353 1716 6331
- Precision medicine
- Signal transduction
- Systems biology
- Cancer biology
Walter Kolch is Director of Systems Biology Ireland at University College Dublin. A leading international proponent of precision medicine, Kolch originally trained as a clinician, subsequently working in the pharmaceutical industry, research institutes, and academia. He is internationally recognised for his cutting-edge research using systems approaches to understand signalling networks, and is ranked 3rd in the world in precision medicine, 8th in personalised medicine, and amongst the world’s top 50 in proteomics, systems biology, and signal transduction (Google Scholar). Through his leading involvement in pan-European strategic initiatives including Coordinating Action Systems Medicine, Infrastructure for Systems Biology Europe, and the ELIXIR research infrastructure for life science information, Kolch has played a central role in the development of precision medicine policy and funding at both national and international level.
Kolch has designed, developed and coordinated innovative systems biology, systems medicine and precision medicine programmes of vision, scale and impact throughout his career, with a track record of competitive grant funding of over €200M. Kolch founded the Sir Henry Wellcome Functional Genomics Facility in 2001 - one of the first facilities worldwide that integrated genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and bioinformatics under one roof pioneering multi-omics data integration. From 2005 to 2009, he was Scientific Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC) Proteomics Technologies - RASOR, a £15M multidisciplinary project between the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Dundee, which focused on developing innovative proteomics technologies. RASOR produced >180 publications, 6 patents and a spin out company. It also incorporated an associated doctoral training centre. In 2009, he established SBI, a €22M interdisciplinary research centre focusing on the design of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to diseases primarily cancer, based on a systems level, mechanistic understanding of cellular signal transduction networks. An independent review of 2017 ranked SBI as one of the top four research centres that integrate computational modelling with experimental cell biology.
Kolch’s record of coordinating large scale interdisciplinary initiatives includes one EU Horizon 2020 MSCA training programme, two EU-FP7 health programmes and two large strategic UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded cross-University research collaborations. He has also partnered on 10 EU-FP6/FP7 programmes.
His current interest is focusing on using computational modelling and omics approaches to analyse biological networks in order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of disease such as cancer and inflammation (skin, rheumatoid arthritis), and in order to design new approaches to personalised diagnostics and treatment of these disease based on a systems level, molecular mechanistic understanding.
Key Research Highlights
- Pioneered the use of dominant negative mutants to map signalling pathways in mammalian cells
- Development of biochemical high throughput and cellular drug screening assays crucial for the development of two widely used and highly specific PKC inhibitors, Goe6976 and Goe6815
- Discovered mechanisms of crosstalk between protein kinase C and Raf pathways
- Co-discovered the crosstalk between the cAMP and Raf-1 signalling pathways