News from Biochemistry & Biology

Update from October/November

Professor John McGeehan
Professor John McGeehan

1. Professor Matt Guille was one of four organisers of the very successful International Xenopus meeting that saw 200 scientists using the clawed frog model to study human diseases and basic biology getting together in Crete.


2. Professor John McGeehan has helped to link together four research groups in the USA with our team at the University of Portsmouth to generate the wide expertise necessary to tackle the complex problem of turning waste biomass into useful products including biofuels, chemicals, plastics, textiles and even carbon-fibre. This effort has been significantly boosted by US Department of Energy funding and a recent award of £1.1M from a joint NSF-BBSRC grant, with over £400k coming to the School of Biological Science at Portsmouth. Our American colleagues will employ novel synthetic biology tools to help evolve designer enzymes, while we are tasked with analysing their biochemical properties and solving their 3D structures using X-ray crystallography at the Diamond Light Source. This ambitious project, which has directly links to industry, has the potential to make biofuel production commercially viable and create a new range of renewable and sustainable plant-based products.


3. Gosia Suszek is visiting the frog centre from the world-famous Nencki institute in Warsaw for three months. Gosia works on human diseases associated with mutations in the myo6 gene and used state of the art gene editing techniques to make the same mutations in Xenopus tropicalis within a week of arriving here, she is now analysing the effect of these mutations.


4. Professor Ben Luisi from Department of Biochemistry, Cambridge was a guest speaker at the Molecular Biophyisics’ research group meeting. He discussed his prestigious work on regulatory assemblies and molecular machines.


5. We welcome our new PhD students, Sian Martin is isolating blood stem cells from the embryo and analysing how the master control genes of the blood system are regulated post-transcriptionally as part of an ongoing collaboration with Professor Roger Patient at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford. Sian will be working the lab of Prof Matt Guille. Daniella Lopes-Cardoso will also be joining us as a new PhD student working on RNA regulation and development of new antibiotics, she will be in the laboratory of Prof Anastasia Callaghan.


6. MRes course has gone from strength to strength with the largest re-corded intake this year. Biology has an impressive 30 of the cohort of doing a variety of exciting projects. We welcome our new students.

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