Seventh Framework Programme - European Union
An EU consortium to identify novel targets and drugs for cancer treatment

Barry Dickson and Krystyna Keleman


Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna, Austria

Barry and Krystyna are at the forefront of technological advance in the world of fly biology. They are fascinated by the way that brain activity translates into animal behaviour. To address the question of how animals decide what to do, their research teams study the sex lives of fruit flies. Although their primary research interests are not directly related to cancer, the discoveries they have made about development translate into a better understanding of processes fundamental to cancer. In addition, the tools they have developed are being used in the search for new therapeutic approaches to cancer.

Barry’s and Krystyna's teams have elucidated much about the molecular nuts and bolts of cell signaling during nervous system development. They’ve also designed powerful tools for studying genetics and genomics in flies. In addition, they’ve pioneered the development of a massive library of transgenic fly strains, in excess of 22,000. Each one has a built-in RNAi construct designed to silence a specific gene. The effects of silencing genes can thus be studied in living animals. The library is currently managed by the Vienna Drosophila RNAi Center (VDRC), which Barry which Krystyna now heads.

There are almost 200 scientists working at the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna. Their research covers a many life-science topics including computational biology, structural biology, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, immunology, oncology, and neuroscience. The Institute is principally funded by Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, but conducts independent, curiosity-driven research in the basic biomedical sciences. State-of-the-art facilities allow researchers to do proteomics, advanced light and electron microscopy, bioinformatics, histology, DNA-sequencing, peptide synthesis, and animal husbandry.