Dr. Curran discovered the Fos oncogene and its binding partner, p39, which he later showed was the product of the Jun oncogene. His laboratory demonstrated that Fos and Jun function as inducible transcription factors, as leucine zipper dimers that bind AP-1 recognition sequences, to regulate gene expression in response to extracellular stimuli associated with proliferation, differentiation, cell death and neuronal activation. This work elucidated the signal transduction pathways that go awry in cancer cells and has initiated the use of Fos as a marker for activity-dependent changes in the nervous system.
His laboratory also uncovered redox regulation of mammalian transcription factors by Ref-1, which also functions as a DNA repair protein. In addition, he identified the gene Reelin and elaborated a signaling pathway, involving Lipoprotein Receptors, Disabled-1 and Crk family proteins that control neuronal positioning in the developing brain.
Dr. Curran recently developed a high-incidence model of pediatric medulloblastoma that he used to demonstrate orally-bioavailable, small molecule inhibitors of Hedgehog signaling rapidly eliminate even large tumors in mice. This work led to clinical development of inhibitors of smoothened for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastoma.
2012 Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2009 Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
2005 Elected Fellow, The Royal Society, London
2002 Peter M. Steck Memorial Award
2000-2001 President, AACR
1995-2006 Member and Founding Chairman, Department of Developmental Neurobiology, St. Jude Children ‘s Research Hospital
1994 Golgi Award, Italian Academy of Neuroscience and the Camillo Golgi Foundation
1994 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1994 Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
1993 AACR Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Award
1992 Passano Foundation Young Scientist Award
1992 Rita Levi-Montalcini Award in Neurosciences
1992 Tenovus-Scotland Medal, Glasgow University
1991-1995 Associate Director, Roche Institute of Molecular Biology
1982 PhD, Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories and University College