Recognition of Distinction for Biochemistry group leaders
Three members of the department have been awarded titles in the University’s recent Recognition of Distinction exercise.
Professor Ben Berks
Dr Ben Berks, Dr Christina Redfield and Dr Nicole Zitzmann were made Professors of Biochemistry, Molecular Biophysics and Virology respectively.
They were assessed in the University exercise in three areas - research, teaching, and good citizenship – and met the thresholds in all of these.
Professor Berks joined the department in 2001. He and his co-workers discovered the bacterial Tat (twin-arginine) protein transport system and have been at the forefront of studies aimed at understanding its structure, physiological role, and molecular mechanism.
The Tat system is found in bacteria and plant chloroplasts and has the unusual, and mechanistically challenging, feature of transporting fully folded proteins across a tightly sealed membrane. The Tat pathway is involved in many aspects of bacterial cell biology including energy metabolism and formation of the cell envelope. Playing an essential role in the virulence of all animal and plant pathogens tested, it is a potential target for novel antimicrobial agents. The system is also crucial for plant photosynthesis.
Professor Christina Redfield
Professor Redfield has been in Oxford since 1980. Working initially in the Chemistry Department, she moved to Biochemistry in 2002. Her research involves the application of solution state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to the study of protein structure, dynamics, folding and interactions.
She has a number of collaborations within the Biochemistry Department, in particular with the Handford group on Ca-binding EGF domains from fibrillin and Notch, the Ferguson group on bacterial proteins from the Dsb and Ccm systems, and the Armitage group on CheY proteins.
Professor Nicole Zitzmann
Professor Zitzmann joined the Glycobiology Institute in 1997 and started her own group in 1999, working on antiviral iminosugars. The group’s overall aim is to develop novel antiviral therapies and methods of drug delivery to combat a broad spectrum of viruses, including Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, human immunodeficiency virus and dengue virus which collectively infect more than 550 million people worldwide.
In 2002 Professor Zitzmann was asked to take over the proteomics group and then merged it with the virus group in the Glycobiology Institute. Today, their main areas of research include the development of viral morphogenesis inhibitors, interference with host cell cholesterol metabolism, structural and functional studies of the Hepatitis C virus ion channel p7, and viral/host cell proteomics. The virus group currently consists of 18 members, and enjoys many national and international collaborations, both with academia and industry. Professor Zitzmann was recently appointed Deputy Director of the Glycobiology Institute.