News

Gorjan Stojanovski and Hugo Villanueva win prizes at ISMB Graduate Symposium

Congratulations to Gorjan Stojanovski and Hugo Villanueva, who were awarded prizes for their research presentations at this year’s ISMB Graduate Symposium. The Symposium was held in the Clore Management Centre at Birkbeck on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th April.

 

Gorjan, from Professor John Ward’s group, presented on ‘Applying bacterial competition to evolve novel antibiotics.’

 

Hugo, from Professor Elena Orlova’s group, presented on ‘Refactoring phages as repurposed nanomachines.’

Posted by ublmcr01 in Achievements, News, Student news, Uncategorised

Arrival of the new Multiwavelength Beckman Optima analytical ultracentrifuge at the UCL Molecular Interactions Facility

We are very grateful to the UCL Capital Equipment Fund for the purchase of the new Beckman AUC Optima for the UCL Molecular Interactions Facility that arrived on 25th March 2019. This was installed after Easter and is starting to become operational. This is the first machine of its type to be installed permanently at an UK university. The pictures show (1) the arrival of the instrument on wheels, (2) what we found when the boxes were opened, and (3) the big smiles of our user community. The major development with this new AUC machine is the capability to measure macromolecular sedimentation across a full absorbance wavelength range, and not with a single wavelength as with the old Beckman AUC Proteome. Other advantages are the capacity to measure samples that are more dilute than with the old AUC. The instrument is highly complementary in scope to macromolecular data collected by NMR, crystallography, mass spectrometry, calorimetry and X-ray and neutron scattering. This should make a big difference to biophysical studies where measuring monodispersity or dissociation constants Kd values are important. For example, the binding of ligands with different chromophores can be monitored simultaneously but independently of the protein that they bind to. In the study of heterogeneous interactions, protein complexes in which one is labelled and the other is not can be monitored in detail, or likewise proteins with haem groups that absorb strongly in the visible region. We have already completed with Dr Lindsay McDermott (pictured) an interesting first project where different fatty acids with two distinct fluorescently-tagged chromophores bind to a lipid binding protein called zinc alpha2 glycoprotein. An account of how this method can be used to follow DNA or RNA binding to a protein at three wavelengths for DNA/RNA, protein and their complex is reported in a short review by Borries Demeler on the new multiwavelength AUC published in the current issue of the Biochemist, published by our Biochemical Society: http://www.portlandpresspublishing.com/sites/default/files/biochemist/Biochemist%20Biophysics/BioAPR19_All%28Demeler%29.pdf?dm_i=4WUK,532Y,250YBQ,HPBK,1

Do please email Prof Steve Perkins (s.perkins@ucl.ac.uk) or Mr Jayesh Gor (J.gor@ucl.ac.uk) if you are interested in discussing possibilities, or even applying this new instrument for your research.

          

Posted by ublmcr01 in Lab news, News, Uncategorised

Dr Salvador Tomas awarded Leverhulme Research Project Grant

Dr Salvador Tomas has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Project Grant to study and develop lipid vesicle-based, stimuli-responsive nanoreactors

Lipid vesicles resemble empty cells, a starting point where to build up programmable cell-like robots by the step-wise addition of molecular machinery. Developing such robots requires that we understand how chemical transformations are influenced by confinement within the boundaries of lipid vesicles. Dr Tomas research group has recently reported evidence that confinement promotes the very chemical reactions that enable the assembly of complex molecular machinery, essential to the function of natural and artificial cells. The aim of the project is to characterise rigorously this confinement effect and to exploit it to build cell-like devices programmed to perform chemical reactions in response to specific external stimuli.

More information about Dr Tomas’s research can be found on his ISMB profile.

Posted by ublmcr01 in Grants awarded, News, Uncategorised

Summer 2019 ISMB Seminar Series begins Wednesday 24th April

The Summer 2019 ISMB seminar series, Molecular mechanisms of protein folding and misfolding in human disease, coordinated by Dr Lisa Cabrita, will begin on Wednesday 24th April with the following talk:

Tuning protein biogenesis at the level of translation (and the link to disease)
Dr. Zoya Ignatova, University of Hamburg, Germany

Time: 13.00

Venue: Room B20, Birkbeck

All are welcome to attend.

Posted by ubcg49z in News, Seminars

Research by the Hansen group featured in ChemPhysChem

Research presenting a new method for probing solution‐state interactions of arginine side‐chains in proteins by Prof Flemming Hansen and 3rd year Hansen group PhD student Harry MacKenzie was featured as the cover article for the February 2019 European Journal of Chemical Physics and Physical Chemistry.

Full paper: Arginine Side‐Chain Hydrogen Exchange: Quantifying Arginine Side‐Chain Interactions in Solution

Feature profile

Cover illustration

Prof Flemming Hansen

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by ubcg49z in News, Publications, Student news

New, giant bacterial virus found in human gut

A new giant virus that infects bacteria commonly found in the human gut has been discovered by an international team led by researchers from UCL including Professor Joanne Santini, and UC Berkeley.

The new ‘megaphage’ called ‘Lak’ is the same size as some bacteria and is the biggest ever reported phage found in the human gut.

A study published in Nature Microbiology describes the discovery of Lak phage and reports that they specifically infect bacteria called Prevotella, which live in all people but most notably those who have a diet high in fibre and low in fat.

Prevotella is also associated with upper respiratory tract infections and is prevalent in periodontal disease, which means the new megaphage may open up the development of new phage-based treatments for infections caused by Prevotella.

Research paper in Nature Microbiology

UCL News commentary

Professor Joanne Santini

 

Posted by ubcg49z in News, Publications

Birkbeck Department of Biological Sciences receives Athena SWAN Silver Award

The Department of Biological Sciences, Birkbeck has been awarded an Athena SWAN Silver Award by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), upgraded from its previously held Bronze Award. The award recognises the department’s commitment to achieving gender equality across the institution and the progress that it is making in this area. It is valid until April 2022.

The ECU presents Athena SWAN awards to recognise and reward commitment to gender equality in higher education. Its Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.
In 2015, the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

The Department of Biological Sciences’ Athena SWAN Silver Award was formally presented at a ceremony at the University of Southampton on 10 December 2018.

 

Posted by ubcg49z in Achievements, News