The College of Sciences is delighted to announce the appointment of Anton Gartner as Professor of Genetics at the University of Dundee. Anton Gartner, a Principal Investigator at the Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression joined the College of Life Sciences in 2004 as a CRUK Research Fellow and was awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in 2010.

Born in Vienna, Austria Professor Gartner received his undergraduate degree at the University of Vienna, and his PhD from the Institute for Molecular Pathology, Vienna. He went on to take up postdoctoral positions at the Institute for General Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology (University of Vienna) and with Dr. Michael Hengartner, at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. From 2000-2004 he was Junior Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in the Department of Cell Biology. He became Reader that University of Dundee in 2010.

Professor Gartner’s research explores the use of C. elegans genetics as a model for studying basic biological problems including uncovering DNA damage and stress response pathways.  The multicellular organism shares many fundamental genetic programs with humans suggesting that results obtained in the C. elegans system are likely to be applicable to mammalian systems. His work on C. elegans is facilitated by the simplicity of the organism at the developmental and anatomical level, by the ease of its maintenance, as well as by the power of forward and reverse genetic procedures.

His lab uses a “whole organism” based approach to study cellular phenotypes in their natural context. C. elegans, the simple most animal system allowing for forward genetic screening, is unique in allowing for genome wide RNAi screening where RNAi is applied at the organismal level. He uses C. elegans genetic approaches to better understand genetic pathways relating to C. elegans germ cell development and integrity as well as on DNA damage response pathways needed for maintaining the genome integrity of germ cells. He has also begun to explore C. elegans to uncover molecular mechanisms leading to Parkinson’s Disease. Focusing on C. elegans models for dopaminergic neurodegeneration which is the key pathology of Parkinson’s.

He has established research collaborations within the College of Life Sciences and the College of Medicine Dentistry and Nursing to complement his genetic research and to aid other labs in efficiently using the C. elegans model. Projects include the visualisation of key aspects of DNA replication in early C. elegans embryos, and taking full advantage of advanced quantitative mass spectroscopy based approaches.

Professor Gartner has used his research to help raise money for Parkinson’s UK and their mascot Dave the Worm is inspired by work in his lab. Identifying himself as l’enfant terrible of the CLS research community, Professor Gartner’s response to his appointment was characteristically sardonic,

“Growing up in a country obsessed with titles, becoming a Professor is a scary thought; even the most dull, colorless and indifferent Grammar School teachers were to be called Professors. In any case, I vividly remember our response. ‘Herr Professor even yourself are not convinced about the nonsense you are teaching’. In any case I hope to be challenged as well.”