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Personal profile

Research interests

Current Research

The aim of my research is to study the structural and physico-chemical characteristics of proteins involved in maintaining homeostasis of the human body. I am particularly interested in proteins, and their physiologically relevant complexes, that determine the elemental struggle between pathogenic microbes and the immune system of the host. Current projects include:

The Complement System and Microbial Immune Evasion:

The human complement system is comprised of about 20 plasma proteins and 10 receptors on cell membranes. Its primary function is to defend the host against microbial infections, leading to the clearance of antigen-antibody complexes and bacterial lysis. Many bacterial pathogens have evolved ways to adapt to their host environment and survive host immune attack by producing a variety of immune-modulatory factors. My laboratory studies the structural and functional aspects of the interactions between these immune evasion proteins and the complement system. This information will help to design better vaccines and drugs for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.


Press release on receiving BBSRC Follow-on Funding for the improvement of TB vaccines:


Press release on a paper in the journal Science on the structure of the complex between complement fragment C3d and complement receptor 2 (CR2/CD21):



Protein Glycation:

The attachment of sugars to proteins is a very important and well-controlled process in healthy individuals. Sugar-modified proteins (glycoproteins) add to the complexity and diversity of the complement of proteins (proteome) and also control a protein’s location in a cell or the body, its activity, and its interactions with other proteins. Undesired sugar modifications, however, may also occur in the form of glycation, where carbohydrates, such as glucose covalently bind to a protein without the controlling action of an enzyme. The degree of protein glycation has been shown to be an important factor and indicator in ageing and age-related chronic disease states such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
In collaboration with Dr Tony James (Chemistry, Bath) and Dr Rob Williams (Biology & Biochemistry, Bath) we are developing new tools to detect, identify and quantify carbohydrate modifications in glycated proteins that can ultimately be used as diagnostic tools.


Press release on a licence agreement with the company Abcam for our glycation detection technology:


Press release on the discovery of glycated proteins linked to Alzheimers disease:


Press release on the development of our glycation detection technology:


Youtube video "take the bitter with the sweet" explaining our glycation detection technology (Bath Ignite #4):



Current lab members:

Ayla Wahid (Postdoc)

Rhys Dunphy (PhD student)

Alex MacPherson (PhD student, with UCB Celltech)

Joshua Lewis (PhD student, with Porton Biopharma Ltd)


Previous lab members:

Omar Kassaar (Postdoc, joint with Rob Williams)

Catherine Back (Postdoc)

Marjorie Gibbon (Daphne Jackson Fellow)

Yi Yang (PhD student)

Marta Pereira Morais (PhD student and Postdoc)

Gyles Cozier (Postdoc, joint with Andrew Watts)

Suying Xu (Postdoc, joint with Tony James)

Ricardo Resende (Postdoc, joint with Andrew Watts)

Sylvain Royer (Postdoc)

Ben Heath (Postdoc, joint with Stefan Bagby)

Julian Eaton (Postdoc, joint with Stefan Bagby)

Julia Mackay (Postdoc)

Elisabeth Clark (PhD student, joint with Stefan Bagby)

Huan-Lin Wu (PhD student, joint with Stefan Bagby)

Karen Atkins (PhD student)




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Research Output

Ensilicated tetanus antigen retains immunogenicity: in vivo study and time-resolved SAXS characterization

Doekhie, A., Dattani, R., Chen, Y-C., Yang, Y., Smith, A., Silve, A. P., Koumanov, F., Wells, S., Edler, K., Marchbank, K. J., Van Den Elsen, J. & Sartbaeva, A., 8 Jun 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 9243.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
1 Citation (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Structural Stabilisation of Disulphide-Linked Fluid-Phase C3d Dimers by Sbi Suggests a Novel B cell Subversion Strategy by Staphylococcus aureus

Wahid, A., Dunphy, R., Gibson, B., Back, C., Hallam, T., Alkhawaja, B., Harris, C., Crennell, S., Watts, A., Marchbank, K. & Van Den Elsen, J., Oct 2019, p. 437.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Utilization of Staphylococcal Immune Evasion Protein Sbi as a Novel Vaccine Adjuvant

Yang, Y., Back, C., Gräwert, M., Wahid, A., Denton, H., Kildani, R., Paulin, J., Wörner, K., Kaiser, W., Svergun, D., Sartbaeva, A., Watts, A., Marchbank, K. J. & Van Den Elsen, J., 11 Jan 2019, In : Frontiers in Immunology. 9, p. 1-17 17 p., 3139.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
3 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)

Analysis of Protein Glycation Using Phenylboronate Acrylamide Gel Electrophoresis

Pereira Morais, M., Munir, O. K., Flower, S., Williams, R. J., James, T. & Van Den Elsen, J., 14 Nov 2018, Electrophoretic Separation of Proteins: Methods and Protocols. T. Kurien, B. & Hal Scofield, R. (eds.). New York, U. S. A.: Humana Press, p. 161-175 (Methods in Molecular Biology; vol. 1855).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Biophysical analysis of glycated proteins

Author: Pereira Morais, M., 1 Sep 2011

Supervisor: Van Den Elsen, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Development of Thermostable Vaccine Conjugates Based on a Staphylococcal Immune Evasion Protein

Author: Wahid, A., 19 Feb 2020

Supervisor: Van Den Elsen, J. (Supervisor) & Sartbaeva, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD

Development of vaccine conjugates based on Dengue virus using a staphylococcal immune evasion protein

Author: Almansoor, A., 6 Sep 2017

Supervisor: Van Den Elsen, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisMPhil


Ensilication of tetanus toxin C fragment for the development of thermostable vaccines

Author: Doekhie, A., 19 Jun 2019

Supervisor: Sartbaeva, A. (Supervisor), Van Den Elsen, J. (Supervisor) & Koumanov, F. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Fluorescence probes for the detection of biologically relevant species

Author: Gardiner, J., 4 Dec 2019

Supervisor: James, T. (Supervisor) & Van Den Elsen, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD