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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences
(023) 8059 4288

Dr David Tumbarello 

Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, Principal Investigator (Membrane trafficking and cell signalling)

Dr David Tumbarello's photo

Dr David Tumbarello is Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences within Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Career history

2014-present: Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences. Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
2010-2014: Research Associate. Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, UK.
2007-2010: Postdoctoral Fellow. Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Institute, Cambridge, UK.

Academic qualifications

2016: PGCert Academic Practice, University of Southampton, UK.
2006: PhD (with honours) Anatomy and Cell Biology. SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, USA.
1999: BSc (cum laude) Biochemistry. Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, USA.

Research interests

I began my scientific career evaluating the role of focal adhesion proteins in the regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transformation and their influence on cytoskeletal rearrangement during cell migration/invasion. Following on from this, I focused on understanding the role of cell-extracellular matrix interactions and their relationship to therapeutic resistance in ovarian cancer. My more recent work has concentrated on the role of actin motor proteins and associated adaptor proteins in the regulation of different aspects of autophagy, a cellular degradation pathway. More specifically, this work has investigated how autophagy receptor specificity towards distinct cargo is coordinated and what defines their individual cellular function.

Our current research focuses on understanding the cellular mechanisms and molecular machinery required for subcellular trafficking of membrane associated and cytosolic cargo via endocytosis and autophagy. These pathways are essential to regulate cell homeostasis by mediating signal regulation, receptor turnover, maintenance of energy stores, degradation of misfolded and damaged organelles, and control of pathogen invasion. In addition, we are interested in how these processes influence cell signalling, cytoskeletal reorganisation and cell morphogenesis.

Understanding the requirements for receptor as well as cytosolic cargo degradation and their relationship to cellular morphogenesis is vital to understanding the molecular mechanisms of diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration, which stem from defects in various membrane trafficking and cell signalling pathways. My lab here at the University of Southampton utilises cell, molecular, and biochemical approaches to investigate the mechanisms of vesicle trafficking along the endocytic and autophagic pathways in order to further our understanding of these complex interrelationships.

PhD Supervision

Charlotte Collier: Investigating the mechanisms of mitophagy. Wessex Medical Research Trust.

Emelia Arezo Assar: Investigating the mechanisms of membrane traffic and cell signalling. Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust, BioSci.

Research group

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Affiliate research groups

Neuroscience, Developmental Biology, Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS)

Research project(s)

Investigating the mechanisms of membrane traffic and cell signalling

This project aims to delineate the cellular mechanisms that regulate cargo identification during endocytosis and autophagy and their impact on cell signalling and morphogenesis.

Investigating the mechanisms of mitophagy

This project aims to understand some of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive the process of intracellular degradation pathway mitophagy, where damaged mitochondria (due to stress or disease) are destroyed.

Investigating the mechanisms of Parkin-mediated mitophagy

Enhancing Integrin-mediated Nervous System Regeneration

Novel strategies to enhance neurite outgrowth and axon regeneration are currently needed. 

Investigating mitochondrial-derived vesicles and their relationship to Parkinson's disease pathology

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Book Chapter




BIOL1007 Macromolecules of Life
BIOL1005 Cell Biology & Genetics
BIOL2011 Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
BIOL3001 Current topics of cell biology
BIOL3064 Cancer Chromosome Biology

Module Coordinator

BIOL3064 Cancer Chromosome Biology

Project Supervisor

BIOL3031 Literature-based research project
BIOL3032 Literature-based research project
BIOL3034 In-depth research project
BIOL3058 Bioscience Business
BIOL6013 Advanced Research Project


BIOL1020 Core Skills in the Life Sciences
BIOL2010 Flow of Genetic Information

University of Southampton

YOI (Year out in Industry) Placement Tutor
Employability Lead
Scientific Reports Editorial Board member

Professional membership

The American Society for Cell Biology
Biochemical Society
British Society for Cell Biology Ambassador

Dr David Tumbarello
Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number NNN: 85/3037

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