News

Prof Bonnie Wallace wins the RSC Khorana Prize 2020

Congratulations to Professor Bonnie Ann Wallace for winning the Royal Chemical Society’s Khorana Prize 2020.

This prestigious accolade is awarded for her pioneering development of biophysical methods and bioinformatics tools to enable the characterisation of ion channel-drug molecule complexes. The Khorana Prize is the latest marker of esteem reflective of a highly successful career, as Bonnie also received the RSC Interdisciplinary Prize 2009 and the Biochemical Society’s AstraZeneca Award 2010.

Further details about the award are available here.

Posted by ubmsco004 in Achievements, Awards, News

Congratulations Hugo Villanueva | Student Update

Hugo Villanueva passed his PhD viva on 6th December 2019, having studied in Dr Renos Savva’s research group at Birkbeck, co-supervised by Dr Vitor Pinheiro and Prof Elena Orlova. Hugo had recently successfully been awarded an IPF award by LIDo to pursue commercialisation of his research.

Hugo has made the most of that opportunity by successfully being awarded his application for ICURe (Innovation & Commercialisation of University Research – funded by InnovateUK). The award is one of the very limited places on the programme in Cohort 26. The requirements are very high for the programme and Hugo will join a small number of teams who have been accepted on to the Cohort.

During the programme (approximately 3 months) Hugo will be able to claim up to £35,000 of expenditure, to enable him to carry out market validation of his research-based business idea and receive intensive support in developing a structured business model. At the end of the programme, Hugo will present to a panel of innovation experts and entrepreneurs. He may then be invited to apply for spin-out/start-up funding or carry out some further market validation.

Dr Hugo Villanueva will start his full-time activity on Monday 6th January 2020, until Tuesday 31st March 2020. His team consist of himself, Dr Renos Savva (senior research adviser), Dr Mark Fisher (UCL-B), and Dr David Lunn (Revenant Bio, business adviser). The team begins its quest to launch a start-up biotech at the opening symposium in Reading from 6th to 9th January.

Posted by ubcg49z in News

Two adaptive immune receptor databases hosted at the ISMB

Dr Adrian Shepherd’s computational immunology group are now hosting two databases – OGRDB and VDJbase – that focus on the analysis of large immune repertoire datasets.

The Open Germline Receptor Database (OGRDB) was developed in collaboration with members of the Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire (AIRR) Community, and is used to support the inference of novel germline genes from B- and T-cell repertoires. Genetic differences in the loci that encode B- and T-cell receptors are poorly characterised by conventional genome sequencing; a better understanding of such differences may help to explain why individuals often respond differently to pathogens, vaccines and biotherapeutics. This work is published in leading edge research publication Nucleic Acids Research.

Whereas OGRDB is about individual genes, VDJbase is about whole genotypes and haplotypes – the complete sets of immunoglobulin genes that are expressed by different individuals. This resource supports a range of different kinds of analysis, including the inference of gene deletions within a single haplotype, and the estimation of gene heterozygosity within a population. Originally developed by Gur Yaari’s lab at Bar-Ilan University, VDJbase is now co-developed and hosted at Birkbeck, and is also published in NAR.

Posted by ubcg49z in News

New findings on the self-preservation properties of killer T cells | UCL research paper published

UCL News article ‘What protects killer immune cells from harming themselves?’ (27th Nov 2019) announces a collaborative paper published in peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications, identifying mechanisms by which white blood cells protect themselves.

The paper – ‘Lipid order and charge protect killer T cells from accidental death’ – was co-authored by Professor Bart Hoogenboom (London Centre for Nanotechnology, UCL Physics & Astronomy and UCL Structural & Molecular Biology) and presents findings from scientists at UCL and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

To read the article in full (and for additional content & links) please visit the original UCL News article.

 

Posted by ubcg49z in News

Professor Steven Perkins’ paper featured on the cover of Biochemical Journal

Professor Steven Perkins (Professor of Structural Biochemistry, UCL) made the front cover of October’s Biochemical Journal (vol. 476, issue 19) with his latest paper:

Crystal structure of zinc-α2-glycoprotein in complex with a fatty acid reveals multiple different modes of protein-lipid binding

A joint project with UCL Medicine and the University of Bedfordshire, it is a combination of work done on Professor Perkins’ new analytical ultracentrifuge, protein crystallography and recombinant proteins.

Citation: Lau, A. M., Zahid, H., Gor, J., Perkins, S. J., Coker, A. R. & McDermott, L. C. (2019) Crystal structure of zinc-α2-glycoprotein in complex with a fatty acid reveals multiple different modes of lipid binding. Biochem. J. 476, 2815-2834.
Posted by ubcg49z in News, Publications, Uncategorised

Student Update: PhD Candidate Hugo Villanueva

PhD candidate Hugo Villanueva recently submitted his PhD thesis from BBSRC LIDo sponsored research in the lab of Dr Renos Savva. Hugo’s viva is scheduled for 5th December.

Hugo is the recipient of one of three competitive stipend awards – covering a three-month period – under the new LIDo initiative Innovation Placement Fund. Hugo is exploring how to translate research, and has connected with new, early-stage funder Revenant Bio, in order to learn the ropes and perhaps start his own venture in the life sciences area.

Posted by ubcg49z in News

ISMB Future Perspectives Day 2019

On June 18th the ISMB held its inaugural Future Perspectives Day for
PhD students and PDRAs. The opening session (chaired by Snezana
Djordjevic) addressed the important issue of Open Access and the
changing landscape of research publications, and featured three
speakers with different perspectives on the subject: Nonia Pariente,
Chief Editor of Nature Microbiology; Catherine Sharp, Head of Open
Access Services, UCL Library Services; and Dalmeet Singh Chawla a
Freelance Science Journalist. The lunchtime session (chaired by Renos
Savva) on post-PhD skills in the jobs marketplace drew on expertise
from the business sector – Juliane Haupt from the Finian Group, Heidi
Kingdon Jones from IRBM and Mark Fisher from UCL Business. The
afternoon session (chaired by Adrian Shepherd) focused on the role of
AI and robotics in 21st century bioscience. Ted Meeds from Healthcare
Machine Learning at Microsoft gave a talk on the role of deep learning
in synthetic biology, Fane Mensah showed how Synthace is developing
software to facilitate the rapid design of high-throughput laboratory
experiments, and Romain Laine from the MRC Laboratory for Molecular
Cell Biology at UCL explained the ways in which machine learning is
transforming image processing in the context of advanced microscopy.

Dr Adrian Shepherd

Posted by ublmcr01 in Events, News, Student news

ISMB staff retreat 2019 at London Zoo

On a sunny day in June, just before the summer solstice, staff from the ISMB at UCL and Birkbeck had their (now) annual retreat this year at the London Zoo. In our busy lives as academics, these away-days provide us with the rare opportunity to catch up with our colleagues from across Torrington Place in a relaxed atmosphere and to make new friends!

We met at the Terrace Restaurant in the ‘Outback’, where we kick-started the day with tea and coffee, surrounded by emus and wallabies. Tabitha had expertly prepared maps that indicated our exploratory trail through the Zoo, incorporating show-and-tell and feeding times for maximum knowledge gathering and entertainment. Watching dragons, flightless birds, pigs and monkeys with moustaches and coatis – which is not pronounced like the garment (I learned that day), but rather co-ah-ti, gave people plenty to discuss over a very nice BBQ-style lunch back at the restaurant.  We then had time to continue our short trip round the zoo to catch up with some more amazing animals before listening to the two science presentations by Drs Alexa Varah and Nathalie Petorelli from the Institute of Zoology about ‘The costs of herbicide resistance in UK agriculture’ and ‘Satellite remote sensing – a conservation revolution’. Despite the fact that our research at the ISMB is somewhat remote from these topics, there was great interest from the audience and lively discussions ensued. It was a brilliant day out, and I’m looking much forward to the retreat in 2020.

Tine Arnvig, UCL-ISMB


Flightless birds


Monkey with moustache


Men in blue


See-through butterfly

Posted by ublmcr01 in Events, News, Uncategorised