Our vision is to provide a world-class research and training environment at the interface of biology and physics.
We aim to:
- use light to probe and perturb macromolecular structure, interactions and dynamics in living cells
- improve our understanding of diseases, such as cancer, at the molecular level
- provide fundamental knowledge that will ultimately improve wellbeing.
Our research projects
Cell surface receptors
Using multi-dimensional fluorescence microscopy, this project is examining the molecular rearrangements that accompany the retrieval and relay of information by cell surface receptors. Receptors are membrane proteins that receive information from outside the cell and transmit it inside the cell. This information is used by the cell to make decisions such as to divide (grow), move or die. Receptors are also attractive targets for therapeutic intervention.
Antibodies and small molecule inhibitors are the two largest classes of targeted drug therapies used in the clinic. In collaboration with Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre researchers Professor Andrew Scott and Dr Adam Parslow, we're using sensitive microscopic techniques to understand the mechanism by which these drugs work. We're using uv-vis, fluorescence spectroscopies and quantum chemical calculations to probe the conformations of tyrosine kinase inhibitors with Professor Feng Wang (CTAM). This information may help to improve cancer treatments.
Cell signalling interferometry
Cells are largely under the control of biochemical networks that involve the interactions of hundreds of biological macromolecules. These sets of interconnections between molecules are often represented as wiring diagrams in analogy with electronic circuits. In this project, we're trying to understand the operation of biochemical circuits by measuring cell behaviour under different temporally varying cell stimulation conditions.
Antimicrobial peptides in living cells
Antimicrobial resistance is a looming threat for humanity. Antimicrobial peptides hold promise as alternatives to conventional antibiotics. In collaboration with Professor Mrinal Bhave and Professor Enzo Palombo (DCB), we're investigating the mechanism of action of antimicrobial peptides on a range of different microbes.
Optical tools for cell biology
Fluorescence from intrinsic and extrinsic probes provides a wealth of information on structure and dynamics. In this project, we exploit the many dimensions of fluorescence to design new types of experiments. These experiments will provide insight into the functioning of biological molecules in condensed phases such as solutions, membranes and in living cells.