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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 the development of knob domain peptide as miniature antibodies

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

Press release on a paper in the journal Science on the structure of the complex between complement fragment C3d and complement receptor 2


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)


Other media links

BBC Countryfile: 'Rivers and Waterways' featuring our research on vaccines (starts at 9'11''). October 2016

Minerva Lecture:  'How Bath is improving TB vaccines' Podcast. November 2016

Inaugural lecture: 'A Spoonful of Sugar'. May 2018

AI and protein folding: YouTube video discussing the recently announced breakthrough in AI-based protein structure prediction by DeepMind. December 2020


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)




Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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