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David Phillips fellows

Interested in becoming a fellow? Go to the David Phillips Fellowships page (in Funding section).

2016 cohort

Dr Myriam Charpentier, John Innes Centre

Nuclear calcium regulation of plant development

Myriam is a multidisciplinary plant biologist who is fascinated by nuclear calcium signalling. Calcium signalling is essential for growth and development, in both plants and animals. In animals nuclear calcium release is a potent regulator of neuronal gene expression and of cell proliferation. In plant, nuclear calcium signalling is known to be essential in legumes to promote associations with nitrogen fixing bacteria and phosphate delivering arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Legumes are among the world’s most important agricultural food crops that are beneficial to billions of farmers and consumers worldwide and provide an essential aspect of natural soil enrichment of organic nitrogen compounds. Her overall aim is to understand the mechanisms that encode nuclear calcium signalling and, more widely, how these mechanisms influence plant development by translating environmental stimuli into specific cellular processes.


Dr Alex Hayward, University of Exeter

Architects of genomic change: the evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements

Alex is an evolutionary ecologist who is fascinated by biological diversity and the forces that structure it. A large proportion of all species are parasitic, and a strong focus of Alex’s research is on parasites, particularly genomic parasites such as transposons. Since the onset of the genomics era, it has become apparent that eukaryotic genomes contain large proportions of transposons. Further, it is now clear that transposon DNA is frequently utilised during host evolution, and that transposons have made important contributions to host adaptation and genomic complexity. By harnessing the potential of massive genomic datasets, Alex’s work examines the evolutionary significance of transposons, including their influence on host genome evolution and their role in key processes such as speciation.


Dr Glyn Hemsworth, University of Leeds

Discovery and Exploitation of Novel Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenase Redox Partners

Glyn is a structural biologist at the University of Leeds. He is interested in the discovery and characterisation of new protein targets that could find utility in industrial processes. He is currently focussing on a range of targets that could activate a recently identified set of enzymes known as lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs). LPMOs represent a new class of enzymes that have recently come to the fore due to their ability to boost the efficiency of biomass breakdown, a process of considerable importance as the world seeks new ways to derive fuels from waste plant materials. By gaining a structural and biochemical understanding of the molecular mechanisms that Nature uses to activate these enzymes, Glyn is hoping to then develop these proteins into new enzymatic tools that can be harnessed in the biorefinery, providing further process improvements, and leading the way to a movement away from dependence on fossil fuels.


Dr Aarti Jagannath, University of Oxford

Talking to the Clock: Understanding How The Molecular Circadian Clock Is Regulated By The Cellular Environment

Aarti Jagannath is a circadian biologist at the University of Oxford. All organisms show 24h rhythms in their physiology and behaviour, orchestrated by a circadian clock that coordinates internal time with the external world. Aarti’s research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms by which the circadian clock picks up cues from the external environment and is set to the right time. Circadian rhythm disruption is endemic in today’s 24/7 lifestyle, and can precipitate a range of chronic conditions such as cancer and metabolic syndrome and a better understanding of how the clock is regulated can lead to novel interventions.


Dr Johnathan Labbadia, University College London

Investigating the relationship between mitochondrial activity, programmed repression of the heat shock response, protein homeostasis and ageing

John is a molecular biologist working at University College London to understand the fundamental processes that drive ageing. The loss of protein homeostasis is a highly conserved feature of aged cells that contributes to the age-related decline of tissue function. John’s research uses the small nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans to identify pathways that maintain protein homeostasis and promote long-term health. To do this, John uses a combination of molecular biology, genetics, high throughput techniques, and in vivo sensors of protein folding to understand how programmed and stochastic changes in protein quality control pathways influence protein homeostasis and the rate of ageing in different tissues.


Dr Paula MacGregor, University of Cambridge

The molecular basis and evolution of host-parasite interactions in African trypanosomes

Paula is a molecular biologist working on African Trypanosomes at University of Cambridge. There are multiple species, and sub-species, of African trypanosome, that can each infect multiple different mammalian hosts. Together they are the causative agents of both human and animal African trypanosomiasis, with bovine trypanosomiasis acting as a major constraint to cattle farming across sub-Saharan Africa.

Paula’s research to-date has focussed on the way in which African trypanosomes interact with their external environment during the mammalian bloodstream stage of their lifecycle. Paula’s current research aims to experimentally characterise molecular diversity amongst the African trypanosome species and how that diversity impacts on host-parasite interactions.


Dr Rogier Mars, University of Oxford

The comparative connectome

Rogier is a neuroscientist working at Oxford's Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain. His research aims to understand the differences in brain organization between primate species as a function of each animal's ecological niche and evolutionary history. He uses diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging to visualise the architecture of the connections between cortical areas in brains that have been collected from apes, monkeys, and prosimian primates that have died of natural causes. Using this technique, he aims to identify the common blueprint of primate brain architecture and understand each species as a variant on this theme. His work focuses in particular on the association cortex, the non-primary, multi-model areas of the neocortex that have expanded disproportionally in the primate brain.


Dr Christine Schmidt, The University of Manchester

Ubiquitylation within and beyond the DNA damage response

Christine is a biochemist working at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre. Her overall aim is to better understand how the ubiquitin system regulates the DNA damage response and associated processes. Both a declining ubiquitin system and accumulating DNA damage can give rise to phenomena associated with ageing, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. She is particularly interested in defining how selected ubiquitylation enzymes function in different DNA repair/genome stability pathways. In addition to using cell biology, biochemistry, microscopy and computational techniques, chemical biology methods will be exploited and developed to define novel ubiquitylation pathways in the DNA damage response.


2015 cohort

Dr Jessica Blair, University of Birmingham

Targeting periplasmic adaptor proteins to improve antibiotic efficacy

Dr Anthony Green, The University of Manchester

Designer enzymes with organocatalytic functionality

Dr Joanne Konkel, The University of Manchester

Oral barrier immuno-surviellance; alterations across the life-course

Dr Marc van der Kamp, University of Bristol

Multi-scale enzyme modelling for SynBio: optimizing biocatalysts for selective synthesis of bioactive compounds

Dr Katie Field (Translational Fellow), University of Leeds

Interactions between crops, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and atmospheric CO2

2014 cohort

Dr Franciska de Vries, The University of Manchester

The root to stability – the role of plant roots in ecosystem response to climate change

Dr Yiliang Ding, John Innes Centre

The role of RNA structures in plant response to temperature

Dr Xiaoqi Feng, John Innes Centre

Epigenetic regulation of sexual lineage development in plants

Dr Joe Swift, The University of Manchester

Response to mechanical stress in ageing tissue

Dr Trevor Wardill, University of Cambridge

Understanding neural integration of colour and motion cues to advance vision research and crop protection

2013 cohort

Dr Neil Dixon, The University of Manchester

Development and Application of Next Generation Synthetic Biology Tools

Dr Silvia Vignolini, University of Cambridge

Cellulose for bio-inspired photonic materials

Dr Stuart Wigby, University of Oxford

Male ageing and the ejaculate: composition, competition and conflict

2012 cohort

Dr Andrew Baldwin, University of Oxford

Interrogating the molecular basis of aggregation inhibition by molecular chaperones

Dr Marco Davare, University College London

Integration of multisensory information for skilled grasp

Dr Masahiro Ono, Imperial College London

Elucidation of the transcriptional programme of memory T cells by a systems approach

Dr Claire Spottiswoode, University of Cambridge

Species interactions and the evolution of biological diversity: visual signalling in antagonistic and mutalistic coevolution