... understanding life in molecular detail

Welcome to the Asbury Centre Fellowship page.

The Asbury Centre provides an exciting, vibrant and progressive environment for researchers. We are passionate about our prestigious fellowships and the opportunities surrounding these with excellent career prospects in all of our research areas. Below you will find information about our current fellows, their independently funded fellowships and their work within the Astbury Centre. We actively support and encourage all of our fellows as their research is vital to the progression of the centre and the future of Structural Molecular Biology.

   Externally funded Fellows

The Astbury Centre is delighted to have the following Research Fellows as members of the Centre. We are happy to receive requestes from anyone interested in writing a fellowship, short of long term, to join the Centre. Information about fellowships, including the prestigious University of Leeds Academic Fellowships can be found here. Please contact us at l.v.gray@leeds.ac.uk.


Photo of Peter Adams

Dr Peter Adams

BBSRC Anniversary Future Leader Fellowship (January 2015 - August 2020)

Dr Peter Adams was awarded a BBSRC Anniversary Future Leader Fellowship to join the Molecular and Nanoscale Physics group at the University of Leeds (School of Physics and Astronomy). His research involves understanding the organisation and biophysics of natural and re-designed photosynthetic systems. Multi-disciplinary approaches are followed, including protein biochemistry, spectroscopy, surface chemistry, nano/micro fabrication and various microscopies (TEM, AFM, fluorescence). Novel 3-D arrangements of membranes containing spinach light-harvesting proteins in defined protein compositions and arrangements are under development. These controlled model ‘light-harvesting’ membranes will act as a platform to test the factors influencing self-assembly, organisation and function in biological membranes and lead towards new bio/nano-devices.

Photo of Alexander  Borodavka

Dr Alexander Borodavka

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship (April 2014 - March 2018)

Alex was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome fellowship to study rotaviruses. Rotaviruses (RVs) cause an estimated 23 million outpatient visits and over 500,000 deaths annually among children under 5 years old. Rotaviruses possess segmented genomes, comprising 11 distinct double-stranded RNA molecules that are packaged into each virion. There is as yet no plausible model explaining the highly efficient mechanism of this molecular process. Understanding this fundamental biological problem will yield novel, attractive RV drug targets, as this is a virus-specific process and infectivity requires all 11 segments. I use single molecule fluorescence techniques combined with a search for high affinity RNA structural motifs involved in segment assortment using various biochemical and biophysical techniques. Ultimately the identified intersegment RNA interactions will be probed in RV-infected cells. These results will help to improve our understanding of how RVs achieve such tightly regulated genome packaging, identify potential novel antiviral targets, as well as reveal new insights into development of a helper-virus free RV reverse genetics system.

Photo of Juan Fontana

Dr Juan Fontana

University Academic Fellow (April 2016 - March 2021)

Juan was awarded a University Academic Fellowship to start his independent research group at the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. His research is focused in understanding how enveloped viruses, like Influenza and Herpes Simplex Virus, enter the host cell. To this end he takes advantage of cryo-electron microscopy techniques, which allow visualisation of viruses at the molecular level, integrated with other approaches. This research will expand the understanding of enveloped viral fusion and will enable the discovery of new drug targets or vaccine candidates to block infection by enveloped viruses.

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Dr Glyn Hemsorth

BBSRC David Phillips Fellow and University Academic Fellow (September 2016 - August 2021)

Industrial biotechnology is one of the most promising approaches to reducing pollution, conserving resources and reducing the costs incurred during the manufacture of many of the chemical precursors and fuels upon which we rely. This approach aims to utilize enzymes or microorganisms to generate new bio-based products from renewable raw materials. A major challenge for research in this context is to unlock the sugars contained in plant cell walls to be utilized for biofuels and other high value chemical precursor manufacture. Research in Dr Hemsworth’s laboratory seeks to combine approaches from bioinformatics, structural biology, enzymology, and enzyme engineering to probe and exploit natural electron transport processes to activate a recently identified family of enzymes known as Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenases (LPMOs). These copper dependent oxidases have emerged as key players in both the natural and applied breakdown of biomass. Understanding how LPMOs are activated will, therefore, be key to optimizing the efficiency of enzymatic biomass conversion and maximizing the lifetime of the reaction mixtures used in these processes.

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Dr Jamel Mankouri

Royal Society University Research Fellow (October 2011 - October 2019)

Viruses are intracellular parasites whose pathogenicity is dependent on the interaction with susceptible cells. To persist they must change host cell physiology to avoid immune detection and utilize the host cell biochemical machinery to create an environment favourable for viral survival. Research in Dr Mankouri's laboratory focuses on understanding the interaction between clinically important human viruses with cellular ion channels. The research aims to understand how viruses modulate ion channel function and investigates the effects of restoring the function of virus-ion channel targets using pharmacological activators/inhibitors on the virus lifecycle. These studies will allow a better understanding of the host cell processes that viruses require in order to survive.

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Dr Megan Wright

University Academic Fellow (September 2016 - August 2021)

Megan was awarded a University Academic Fellowship to start her independent research group in the School of Chemistry. Her research is in the area of chemical biology, applying novel chemical tools to understand protein function and interaction with small molecules. Her work focuses on probing pathways and global cellular regulatory mechanisms in diverse systems (e.g. apoptosis, protein post-translational modification, bacterial quorum sensing) and elucidating the mode of action of cell-cell signals at the host-pathogen interface. This research employs a wide range of methods, including organic and peptide synthesis, protein biochemistry, and global and chemical quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics.

Photo of Elton Zeqiraj

Dr Elton Zeqiraj

Sir Henry Dale and University Academic Fellow (August 2016 - July 2021)

Elton was awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society to study how the small molecule ubiquitin governs cell signalling networks. Elton’s lab is also supported by a University Academic Fellowship from the University of Leeds. The laboratory uses structural biology, biophysics and enzymology techniques to study deubiquitinating enzymes (a.k.a. DUBs). The majority of the lab’s efforts are dedicated towards understanding how DUBs are activated allosterically and how they can be inhibited when it is beneficial to do so.