What happens when a mutation changes the structure of a protein? Does the protein keep on working normally? Or does it stop working and cause a disease?

  • At the moment I have the pleasure picking the brain of Joseph Marsh – Chancellors Fellow at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine in Edinburgh and expert in the structure of protein complexes. Together with collaborators, both in the biological wet-lab and in the clinic, we are looking at the molecular structure and stability of protein complexes and are trying to explain why mutations sometimes cause disease and cancer.

What happens to the structure of a small drug molecule when you shine light on it?  Does it become more or less reactive? Can you use light to switch it on or off? 

  • Light-activated drugs and biomolecules were the topic of my PhD, and I am always on the lookout for projects where I get to fiddle about with small molecules in their excited state.


These two vastly different problems, both in scope and scale, have some surprising similarities.


So how can scientists draw parallels between what a molecule looks like and how it functions? One approach is computational modelling

  •  I have experience in a multitude of molecular modelling techniques, such as molecular mechanics and dynamics, and have advanced expertise in quantum mechanical methods. At the moment I am also picking out useful tools from the toolbox of the bioinformatician, and am developing advanced skills in the handling of large data, which form an integral part of my current research.