Exploring the World of Protein Biochemistry, Structure and Function

and their role in disease mechanisms


Molecular Biophysicist and Biochemist

I am a Senior Lecturer and Research Scientist in the School of Life Sciences, University of Essex, UK.

I have a laboratory fitted out with high-end spectrophotometers including stopped-flow and laser flash, with HPLC, UHPLC, plate readers, incubators, fermentor and other research equipment.

Applications for PhDs and MSDs (research-based MSc) are welcome), please click here for further details.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and teach 'Hematology and Blood Transfusion Science' and 'Structural and Molecular Enzymology', amongst other things.

28.09.18 Staff H&S 185.jpg

Current and previous lab members, left to right: Dr Elizabeth Welbourn (technician), Prof Mike Wilson (Emeritus Prof), Alex Harper (MSD student), Max Skinner (MSD student), Dr Brandon Reeder (Lab leader), John Ukeri (PhD student), Jacob Pullin ( PhD student photo-bombing from another lab!) Hana Abbara (PhD student), Dr Sinan Battah (visiting scientist).

Research Funding News:

The Medical Reseach Council (UK) has awarded £960k (~1.2 Million US$) to continue to develop the blood subititutes and Oxygen Therapeutics. This research money will provide a route to clinical trails for our product.


Blood Sample

Artificial Blood

Engineering a new generation of artificial hemoglobin-based blood substitutes or oxygen carrier. We are using molecular engineering to incorporate through protein electron transfer pathways to enable the bodies own antioxidants to detoxify this vital of oxygen-carrying proteins. In addition, we are looking at new ways to homogeneously PEGylate the protein without disruption of hemoglobin's cooperative oxygen binding nature.


Cytoglobin, Neuroglobin and Androglobin

Did you know humans have 5 different types of hemoglobin? Other than the red blood cell hemoglobin and the muscle's myoglobin, there are 3 new members of this family:

  • Neuroglobin, found mainly in brain tissue, this protein may have links to protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

  • Cytoglobin, found in almost all tissues, this protein may protect some cancer cells against chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

  • Androglobin, a unique new hemoglobin found in lungs and testes and may have links to spermatogenesis. Our lab is investigating the structure and function of this novel protein.

Pills in apothecary bottle

Preventing Acute Kidney Dysfunction related to Rhabdomyolysis

(muscle trauma)

Damage to muscle (rhabdomyolysis) e.g. from trauma injuries can lead to kidney failure. Following research into the mechanisms of this damage, we are developing compounds known as Polyphenol Dendrimer Conjugate Nanoparticles to target and prevent damage to the kidneys.

Bacterial and Non-symbiotic Plant Hemoglobins

The hemoglobin superfamily is extended to bacteria and plants. Bacterial hemoglobins are generally smaller, truncated globins. However, some are much more like their human counterparts, such as Hell's Gate globin-I from Methylacidiphilum infernorum. An extremophile from Hell's Gate hot springs, New Zealand, the hemoglobin from this bacteria is remarkably stable and has similarities to both human Neuroglobin and Cytoglobin.

Plants have two types of hemoglobins; symbiotic and non-symbiotic. The latter is subdivided into 3 classes. At Essex, we were the first to discover the structure of class 3 truncated forms of the protein (from Arabidopsis Thaliana. We are interested in how these proteins are linked to stress signaling.