People

Investigators

 

 

Andrew Wilson

Professor Andy Wilson is the Principal Investigator leading the BBSRC/sLoLa Grant. He is a recognised leader in Supramolecular Chemical Biology. He joined The University of Leeds in 2004 and was promoted to Professor in 2012. Andy has been recognised internationally by the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry Young Academic Scheme (2012), through the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Bob Hay Lectureship (2012) and the RSC Norman Heatley award (2016). Andy’s research focuses on using synthetic molecules to understand and control molecular recognition and self-assembly. His group’s multidisciplinary approach is applied to problems in Chemical Biology and Materials Science with a strong emphasis on inhibition of protein-protein interactions. 

 

Richard Bayliss

Professor Richard Bayliss studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and completed his PhD in molecular biology at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in 2000.  He trained as an EMBO Long Term Fellow in the laboratory of Elena Conti at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and then with Gabriel Waksman in Birkbeck College, London. He was appointed to a Royal Society Research Fellowship at the Institute of Cancer Research in London in 2006 and then relocated to the University of Leicester in 2011, becoming a Professor in 2014.  In 2016, Richard relocated to The University of Leeds to take up his current position as a Professor in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

 

Fanni Gergely

Dr Fanni Gergely is a Senior Group Leader at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford. Originally from Hungary, she completed her PhD in 2001 on mechanisms of mitotic spindle assembly (Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge). Funded by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship her postdoctoral research focused on subcellular trafficking of calcium channels before returning to the topic of mitosis. In 2006 Gergely established her team at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute to study the molecular mechanisms responsible for cell cycle control and genome integrity, and the breakdown of these processes in human pathologies. She became a tenured faculty member in 2012, and was elected to EMBO in 2019. She moved to Oxford in 2020.

 

Colin Johnson

Professor Colin Johnson is Professor of Medical & Molecular Genetics at The University of Leeds. Colin has research interests in the genetics of rare disorders for which he has been recognised through the prestigious Sir Jules Thorn Award for Biomedical Research (2011). In collaboration with the Vision Research Group, Colin is now developing methodologies to interpret variant pathogenicity and cellular disease models using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing and retinal cell-types derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. A second research area has developed from Colin’s interest in ciliopathies, an important group of developmental disorders that arise from defects in the structure or function of the primary cilium and basal body. It focusses on molecular mechanisms of cilia formation and the organization of sub-structures within the cilium using functional genomics.

 

Takashi Ochi

Dr Takashi Ochi is a structural biologist at The University of Leeds. He graduated from the Department of Physics, Keio University, Japan where he also completed his masters degree and studied biophysics and protein crystallography. Takashi then undertook a PhD degree under the supervision of Prof. Sir Tom Blundell at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge. He completed his postdoctoral training in Prof. Blundell’s lab and in Dr Mark van Breugel’s lab at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Takashi’s research focuses on determining the structure of the centriole / basal body to understand roles of the organelles in different tissues and disease states. 

Sheena Radford

Professor Sheena Radford, OBE, FRS, FMedSci, MAE, leads a laboratory with 30 members, working mainly on amyloid proteins and outer membrane proteins. She has published well over 300 papers/book chapters and given over 400 invited lectures across the world and supervised more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows.  She is now Astbury Professor of Biophysics and the Director of the highly successful interdisciplinary Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology (both at The University of Leeds). 

 

Darren Tomlinson

Dr Darren Tomlinson studied for a PhD in developmental biology at The University of Edinburgh, then moved to The University of Leeds and worked as a PDRA studying the function of growth factor receptors in cancer. In 2010 he set up two facilities – an siRNA screening facility and a facility to produce non-antibody binding proteins called Affimers. In 2015 Darren became a University Academic Fellow at Leeds to build a research group to fully exploit the use of Affimers for studying protein function. In 2018 he was promoted to Associate Professor. 

Megan Wright

Dr Megan Wright is a University Academic Fellow at The University of Leeds, whose research focuses on developing chemical proteomic tools to understand biological mechanism. Megan established her independent group in 2016, following a PhD at Imperial College London and Marie Curie Fellowship at TU Munich. She was recently awarded an ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award 2019. Megan leads a team of chemical biologists designing small molecule probes and applying these to detect and manipulate the interactions and modifications of proteins in living cells. 

The Researchers

Diana Gimenez-Ibanez

Dr Diana Gimenez-Ibanez is a postdoctoral research associate working with Andy Wilson and Megan Wright on the development of new tools to understand and influence protein-protein interactions involving intrinsically disordered regions.

Before joining the team in 2021, Diana was a BBSRC research associate at Durham University in Prof. Steven L. Cobb’s group, focussed on the development of fluorinated analogues of Fengycin A with enhanced bio-stability for application as ex-vivo antifungals. Prior to this, Diana completed her PhD in 2019 at Durham University funded through the Marie Curie ITN Fluor21 network, where she investigated new routes for the conformational control of peptoids by means of fluorine and fluorine induced dipolar interactions.

Jennifer Miles

Dr Jennifer Miles studied for a PhD with Cancer Research UK, awarded by University College London. Following this, she moved to the University of Leeds to work as a PDRA with Prof Andrew Wilson and Dr Thomas Edwards on the structural characterisation of inhibitors of Protein-Protein interactions. After this she undertook a PDRA with Prof Paul Taylor, establishing his research group at Leeds. In her most recent role, she has been undertaking structural studies for the CRUK Manchester Institute DDU with Prof Richard Bayliss, based at the University of Leeds.  

Martin Walko

Dr Martin Walko completed his PhD degree with B. L. Feringa at University of Groningen working on molecular and biomolecular switches. After some time working as independent researcher at P. J. Safarik University in Kosice (Slovakia) and a research in protein channel gating with A. Kocer at University of Groningen, he is now a research fellow at the University of Leeds. His current research in the Wilson Group focuses on development of chemical biology tools to study amyloid aggregation and protein-protein interactions.

Management Group

Elisabetta Chiarparin

Dr Elisabetta Chiarparin is currently Section Head of Oncology Chemistry UK and head of Oncology PROTAC platform. Elisabetta has almost 20 years drug discovery experience in the CNS and Oncology therapeutic areas, gained at GlaxoSmithKline, Astex Pharmaceuticals and AstraZeneca. She has led structural, computational and medicinal chemistry teams and contributed to the development of several preclinical and clinical candidates. She is passionate about drugging the ‘difficult to drug targets’ and of Structure Based Drug Design. Elisabetta is co-author of over 50 publications, patents, posters, and oral presentations. Elisabetta was nominated lecturer for 2020/2021 by the of Royal Society of Chemistry Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector (BMCS) lectureship. Elisabetta holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Andy Merritt

Dr Andy Merritt has held the post of Head of Chemistry at the LifeArc (formerly MRC Technology) Centre for Therapeutics Discovery (CTD) since the summer of 2009. In close collaboration with academic scientists, the CTD develops and subsequently prosecutes innovative drug discovery programmes emerging from academic research. During this time small molecule assets in oncology and neuroscience have been partnered with pharmaceutical companies for ongoing clinical development. In addition, tool compounds, supporting research in both these areas and in diseases of the developing world, have been optimised, published and shared across the global research community at no cost. LifeArc also supports academic research group access to compound screening collections covering a range of target classes and technologies.