Aleksandra Watson

Graduate Research Prize Winners 2011


I was born and completed my education in Bahrain, and then travelled to the UK to study for an MBiochem in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at University College, Oxford University. During my final year, and with a Wellcome Trust-funded Summer Studentship, I worked in the laboratories of Prof Jane Endicott, and Dr Chris Norbury towards the structural characterisation of the human cytoplasmic poly(A)polymerase cid1. This project really sparked my interest in structural biology, and I stayed on in Oxford as a Graduate Scholar at St Hilda's College studying for an MRC funded DPhil under Dr. Chris O'Callaghan at the Henry Wellcome Building for Molecular and Cellular Physiology. Here, I investigated the structural nature of protein-protein interactions in immune surveillance, successfully solving structures of three distinct immunologically relevant molecules: the human platelet receptor CLEC-2, the snake venom toxin rhodocytin, and the dengue virus receptor MDL-1. Additionally, I was able to identify binding features and propose a functional mechanism for each of these molecules using biophysical, computational and molecular techniques. The conclusions drawn from these analyses will help to elucidate the mechanisms of cardiovascular disease, snake envenomation, HIV-1 transmission and dengue virus-induced lethal disease.

I really enjoyed my DPhil experience and the opportunities that it afforded me. I am particularly grateful for the skills and techniques that it allowed me to learn and develop, the freedom and level of input I was able to provide to the project, and the great people I've encountered along the way. I am now a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow and a College Research Associate at St. John's College at Cambridge University. My research is based at the Biochemistry Department in Prof E.D. Laue's laboratory, with long-term collaborations with Dr B.D. Hendrich (Cambridge), and at EMBL (Grenoble and Hamburg), the Structural Genomics Consortium (Oxford), and the University of Antwerp (Belgium).


See list of potential projects