I completed a M.Sci. in Chemistry in 2001 at King’s College, London. Following my undergraduate degree I undertook a short period of study at the University of Cambridge (Emmanuel College), working on small molecule natural product synthesis. I then worked as a lecturer in science at a college of further education, teaching applied sciences (chemistry, life sciences and health), the physical science components of vocational qualifications and working cross-faculty with curriculum access and learner support teams. After spending time teaching in the FE sector, I took a position in the chemical industry as a research scientist for ICI, developing polymer systems for commerical refinish products.
I returned to university to read for a D.Phil. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Oxford (Balliol College) under the supervision of Professor Ben Davis. My doctoral studies focused on carbohydrate synthesis and functional studies of interactions between synthetic oligosaccharides and carbohydrate binding proteins on microarray platforms. Upon completion of my doctorate, I moved to the Biochemistry Department at the University of Oxford as a post-doctoral research associate working within the Oxford Institute of Glycobiology, alongside reading part-time for a MA in Education with the The Open University (completed in 2013). I took up my current position as a lecturer in Chemistry with The Open University in March 2014.
2013 M.A. Education (distinction) (comprising: E891, E846, SEH806) - Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University
2013 Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Studies in Education (distinction) - Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University
2012 Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Studies in Education (distinction) - Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University
2009 D.Phil. Organic Chemistry - Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford
“Chemical Mapping - Chemoenzymatic synthesis of sialylated oligosaccharides as probes of innate immunity”
2003 Certificate of Postgraduate Study (Organic Chemistry) - Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge
2003 City and Guilds 7307 (Further and Adult Teacher's Certificate)
2001 M.Sci. Chemistry (1st) - Department of Chemistry, King’s College London, University of London
Altered patterns of cellular carbohydrates are characteristic of many disease states. Changes in both in the sugars displayed upon the surface of proteins and lipids and the cytosolic free oligosaccharides released from cellular degradation pathways provide insights into disease states as well factors influencing protein catabolism and cellular metabolism. As such, changes in the distribution of such species can be used as markers to reveal perturbations in cellular metabolic processes. These markers have the potential to be used as diagnostics and for the purpose of understanding the effects of perturbations in cellular processes resulting from outside interventions such as drug treatments.
In addition to the detection of aberrant glycosylation states, characterisation of interactions between glycans and carbohydrate binding proteins has the potential to directly inform the development of the therapeutic agents. As well as the identification of new interaction partners, the characterisation of glycosylated proteins also represents a huge challenge for the pharmaceutical industry. Many modern and emergent biopharmaceuticals and therapies are based upon monoclonal antibodies and other protein structures which are heavily glycosylated. Modification of the glycosylation states of such therapeutics impacts not only their efficacy but also their immunogenicity; and glycan analysis, particularly the analysis of sialic acid, is a regulatory requirement. As such, there is a burgeoning market for tools to facilitate the accurate structural analysis of carbohydrate structures, as it is imperative that analytical methods keep pace with the development of increasingly complex therapeutic agents.
My research interests are broadly based upon using chemical biology tools for the synthesis, structural characterisation and elucidation of function of biologically relevant carbohydrates. My group work closely alongside industrial companies in the fine chemical, biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry as well as academic partners in the biomedical sciences.
Award: EPSRC First Grant Scheme (2016)
Title of Project: Integrated workflows for glycan analysis: tagging strategies to facilitate structural and functional characterisation of carbohydrates - £100,802
Award: Royal Society Research Grant 2016R1 (2016)
Title of Project: Activity-based probes for glycosidases - covalent iminosugar enzyme inhibitors bearing multifunctional tags for discovery and functional characterisation of novel biocatalysts - £10,500
Award: IBCarb Summer Studentship (2016)
Title of Project: Integrated workflows for carbohydrate analysis - development of methodology to facilitate functional characterization and downstream use of complex carbohydrates isolated from natural sources - £2,500
Award: BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst (IBCAT) BB/M028879/1 (2015)
Title of Project: Chemo-enzymatic Production of Specialty Glycans - £364,803 (duration: 5 years)
Award: IBCarb BBSRC NIBB Business Interaction Voucher (IBCarb-BIV-0915-011) (2015)
Title of Project: Industrial collaboration - £5,000
Award: The Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund Summer Studentship (2015)
Title of Project: Multi-functional labels for carbohydrate analysis - £1080
Award: The Biochemical Society – Eric Reid Fund for Methodology (2015)
Title of Project: Characterising changes in carbohydrates - development of methodology to facilitate characterisation of carbohydrate biomarkers - £950
Research Group members
Sarah Needs (PhD student) (Feb 2015 - ) Biochemical basis of congenital glycosylation disorders
Matthew Allen (PhD student) (Oct 2016 - ) Development of tools for glycan analysis and quantitative sialic acid glycomics
Yahya Kahn (Feb 2017 - ) Preparation of recombinant endo-Lys-N [EC 220.127.116.11] for glycoproteomics applications
Yakub Kahn (Feb 2017 - ) Isolation and structural characterisation of N-glycans from basidiomycetes
Dr Emma Sery (Feb 2017 - ) Chemoenzymatic synthesis of specialty glycans
Dr Katarzyna Brzezicka (Feb 2017 - ) Integrated workflows for carbohydrate analysis
Former Research Group members
Søren Kaas (April 2015 - April 2016) Design of novel radio-sensitizers
Lucy McCanna (June 2015 - Dec 2015) Integrated workflows for carbohydrate biomarker characterisation
Tony Horne (Jun 2015 - Jun 2016) Fluorinated salicyl anilides as inhibitors of mTORC1 signalling
Abdullahi Adan (Feb 2016 - Jan 2017 ) Investigating the effect of pathogenic and protective LRRK2 mutations on lysosomes
I have responsibilities as a co-supervisor for a number of other students in the School, providing expertise in chemical biology, cell biology and biochemical techniques.
Sonia Azeggagh (2016 – present) Project: A “disease in a dish” model for Parkinson’s disease. Supervisory team: Dr. Daniel Berwick (primary supervisor) Dr. Sarah Allman, Dr. Kerry Murphy
Tala Chehab (2014 – 2018). Project: The role of calcium signalling in autophagy. Supervisory team: Dr. Martin Bootman (primary supervisor), Dr. Katja Rietdorf, Dr. Sarah Allman
I am currently part of the module teams involved in the production of course material for the S112 (Level 1 Science) and S315 (Level 3 Chemistry), and previously worked on the production of material for S215 (Level 2 Chemistry). I have previously worked as part of the module teams for SXM390, S215 and S346.
I have an academic interest in individual negotiation of transitions in education, in particular lateral transitions in the tertiary sector and how these transitions can be facilitated. Within the Department of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences at The Open University, I am have responsibilities relating to the pastoral care of our post-graduate student cohort. I am also interested in participant, practioner and institutional perceptions of relevance of acquired credentials to post-study work environments.
I have a deep-seated interest in assessment practice, with particular emphasis on accessibility and equity in assessment and the suitability of assessment models to pre-assessment praxis. I have been involved with assessment in the tertiary sector for a number of years and with public examination processes (in a number of different examiner and senior assessor roles) for over a decade.
I am interested in the use of social media as a tool for science communication and am responsible for the upkeep of the Department's Facebook page. I am currently acting as an academic advisor for BBC Radio 4's weekly "BBC Inside Science" program. I am an active STEMNet ambassador, with a particular interest in creative outreach activities aimed at primary schools.
Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)
The Biochemical Society
British Mass Spectrometry Society
Society for Glycobiology
I am a member of the Executive Committee for the IBCarb network (one of the BBSRC Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy) responsible for Societal Impact and Education in the glycosciences
I currently act as an external co-supervisor for MSc and PhD students at the National University of Malaysia and an internship supervisor for candidates reading chemical and biotechnological sciences at University College Southwest Denmark
In addition to teaching on Open University modules our academics are engaged in ground breaking research that benefits individuals and society.
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