Professor Cahir O’Kane
Lecturers, Professors and College Officers,
Cahir O’Kane was elected a Fellow of Churchill in 1996. He grew up in Northern Ireland and studied Genetics for his first degree in Cambridge in 1981. He obtained a PhD in bacterial genetics from Trinity College Dublin in the lab of David McConnell (1981-85), and was a postdoctoral fellow with Walter Gehring in the Biocenter of the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he developed the widely used approach of enhancer trapping in Drosophila (1985-88). From 1988-1993 he was a lecturer in the University of Warwick.
Since 1993, he has been an academic in the Genetics Department in Cambridge, where he served as Head from 2009-2013 and Deputy Head from 2021. He teaches mainly in the biological Natural Sciences Tripos and serves as one of the biological Directors of Studies in Churchill, and also serves on the Chapel Committee. His research interests include the organisation and trafficking of intracellular membrane compartments in Drosophila (fruitfly) neurons, and the roles of these membrane compartments in neuronal physiology and neurodegeneration. His current interests include a long neglected cell compartment, axonal endoplasmic reticulum (ER). His group has recently shown that some genes that are causative for the axon degeneration disease, hereditary spastic paraplegia, help to organise the axonal ER as a tubular membrane network, and they are now interested in the physiological roles of this network.