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Research interests

My research group focuses on the screening, design, synthesis and characterisation of peptide-based antagonists that can inhibit disease-relavant targets with high affinity and specificity. These do so by inhibiting the protein-protein interactions (PPIs) that targets require for function.

While forces driving stability are now well understood, much less is known about specificity. Towards these goals we undertake peptide library screening within the complex environmewnt of the cell. This includes Protein-fragment Complementation Assay (PCA), and 'Transcription Block Survival' (TBS) screening platforms. Both utilise semi-rational design to select peptide antagonists that can engage with a protein target and ablate function. We have further devised a Competitive and Negative Design Initiative (CANDI) technique to increase target-specificity in the PCA system by expressing potential off-targets or first generation hit sequences during the selection process.

Library derived peptides and their characterisation have allowed us to create a number of tools towards prediction of PPI stability and specificity based on primary sequence alone, and to consequently design inhibitory peptides as well as in silico libraries.

Our screening approaches have been applied to a broad range of therapeutically relevant systems that include signalling proteins, transcription factors, and amyloidogenic proteins such as β-amyloid and α-synuclein that are implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, respectively.

The research group use a range of multidisciplinary approaches that include molecular biology, chemical biology, and molecular biophysics. Our research has been funded by BBSRC, MRC, EPSRC, CRUK, The Wellcome Trust, Royal Society, Alzheimer's Society, Parkinson's UK and Alzheimer's Research UK.

Willing to supervise doctoral students

I would be pleased to hear from potential applicants. We have a range of ongoing projects related to the design and characterisation of peptide-based inhibitors of proteins involved in disease. 

In addition to applications from students who would like to undertake a PhD, I also support applications for external or personal postdoctoral fellowships (e.g. EMBO, HFSP, Marie Curie or government funded).

Please contact Jody Mason for informal discussions.

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

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Bristol

Award Date: 1 Jan 2001

Biochemistry, Bachelor of Science, University of Bristol

Award Date: 1 Jul 1997

External positions

Alzheimer's Research UK Grant Review Board Member, Alzheimer's Research UK

Jul 2016Jun 2023

BBSRC Core Member for Panel D, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

20162024

EPSRC Associate Peer Review College, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

20162023

Editorial Board: Future Medicinal Chemistry

2011 → …

Editorial Board: PLOS One

2010 → …

Keywords

  • peptide
  • protein
  • protein folding
  • amyloid
  • protein misfolding
  • library screening
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cancer
  • peptide mimetics
  • protein-protein interactions

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