Trustee, Professor Rob Layfield was born in south Cumbria and in 1987 migrated to the University of Nottingham to undertake a degree in Biochemistry and also to fulfil a lifelong yearning of following Nottingham Forest Football Club. With the exception of a year spent at the University of Cambridge (2000 - 2001), Rob has remained in Nottingham and pursued his research career at the University. He held independent Research Fellowships from the charities, Research into Ageing and then the Wellcome Trust, prior to taking up the position of Associate Professor in Biochemistry in 2004.
Rob is a basic scientist with an interest in the biochemistry of human disease, and has researched Paget’s disease since 2002, when the protein he was already studying was found to carry mutations in some cases of familial Paget’s disease. He tells us “I still remember reading the first papers back in 2002 that identified SQSTM1 mutations in individuals with Paget’s disease and thinking “That’s really interesting… I wonder what Paget’s disease is?!?” Within a week, I was on a plane to Aberdeen to meet (and be inspired by) Professor Stuart Ralston, who actually identified the mutations, and the rest, as they say, is history. It has been a privilege to work in the Paget’s field and community since that time, and I remain as fascinated by the condition today as I was back then. I am proud of what we and our collaborators have achieved in that time, and I am mindful of the support we have had along the way, not least from the Paget’s Association. In my lab we research disease mechanisms in Paget’s and have made numerous contributions including:
• Helping determining the first structure of the SQSTM1 protein;
• Providing a detailed molecular understanding of how many of the mutations impact on protein structure and function;
• Implicating altered function of different biochemical pathways in disease aetiology.
An important ongoing goal is to translate the findings of our basic research into tangible benefits for those affected by Paget’s disease, such as informing clinical decision‑making. I am especially pleased now, to be able to give something back to the Paget’s Association by taking up a position as Trustee”.
Outside of work, Rob enjoys running and despite almost 30 years of pain still tolerates football.
In recognition of his work, Rob’s group was part of the Nottingham team awarded Centre of Excellence status by the Paget’s Association.