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Molecular Biophysics Group

We are engaged in structural biology research utilising all of the X-ray techniques (protein crystallography, small angle scattering and XAS), neutron scattering, numerous biophysical methods (including EPR and single crystal spectroscopies) and computational approaches (molecular dynamics). Our research interests include molecules involved in neurodegenerative diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, drug metabolism, NO-signalling  and the nitrogen cycle. We are also engaged in method developments including use of combined methods (structural and spectroscopic), X-ray radiolysis, limiting radiation damage, sample delivery for X-ray free electron lasers and sulphur phasing.

Research Highlights

In the 4th April issue of Nature (see associated press release) we report on a bacterial protein-protein complex that sheds light on the mechanisms of electron transfer processes that are key to all living things.
On 23 April in Nature Communications we report recent work on ligand binding and the aggregation properties of pathogenic SOD1 in motor neuron disease.

2014 is the International Year of Crystallography

In 1904 Charles Barkla at Liverpool demonstrated that X-rays are polarisable electromagnetic impulses. In 1912 Max von Laue demonstrated that X-rays were diffracted by crystals. In 1913 the Braggs, father and son, demonstrated that the diffraction of X-rays can be used to determine the positions of atoms within a crystal, revealing three dimensional structure. Max von Laue received the Nobel Prize in 1914 and the Braggs the year after. These groundbreaking experiments marked the birth of modern crystallography. The UN has adopted a resolution (3 July 2012) that 2014 should be the International Year of Crystallography and the International Union of Crystallography (IuCR) is marking the centennial of these events. For details follow this link.

To mark the international year of Crystallography, IUCr launched a new open-access peer-reviewed journal, IUCrJ in January 2014. IUCrJ covers five broad areas, from biology and medicine to physics and free electron lasers.

The current impact of X-ray crystallography in science is evident from the award of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry to US scientists Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka for their groundbreaking studies and structure determination of G-protein-coupled receptors.

PDRA Structural Biology of Membrane and Soluble Proteins and their complexes

A BBSRC-supported project is available immediately focsing on structure-function-mechanism studies of Cu-nitrite reductase and membrane bound nitric oxide reductase and the role of metabolon complex formation in controlling levels of cytotoxic NO. Full details of the project can be found by clicking here. Informal enquiries can be made by contacting Prof. Samar Hasnain (s.s.hasnain@liverpool.ac.uk).

Opportunities for International PhD Studentships

A RIKEN-Liverpool studentship is available now in Biological X-ray Free Electron Laser Research

Professor Ryoji Noyori, Nobel Prize winner and President of RIKEN, signed an agreement for a joint international graduate programme that will enable PhD students studying biological and physical sciences at Liverpool to spend up to two years working at one of RIKEN’s institutes. As part of this programme, we invite immediate applications from first class students for a PhD studentship in the exciting new field of X-ray free electron lasers for structural biology. The candidate will work at SACLA, Japan's new XFEL, as well as at the University of Liverpool and Daresbury's Accelerator Science and Technology Centre. Full details of the project can be found by clicking here. Informal enquiries can be made by contacting Prof. Samar Hasnain (s.s.hasnain@liverpool.ac.uk).

Opportunities for outstanding graduates from Mahidol University


We are looking for first class students for PhD studies at the University of Liverpool. Scholarships are available in a range of subjects in Health and Life Sciences, Chemical and Materials Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Structural and Molecular Biology. More details can be found by clicking here.

Three recent graduates from Mahidol University on PhD programs at Liverpool University are pictured outside the Victoria Gallery and Museum






Liverpool - Hong Kong Studentships


The Universities of Liverpool and Hong Kong are considering joint PhD programmes in Science and Engineering, and Health and Life Sciences. A delegation from University of Hong Kong (HKU) visited Liverpool, consisting of Vice President, Professor Paul Tam; Ophthalmology Professor David Wong; Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Program Director, Professor Ed X Wu and Professor Hao Quan from Hong Kong’s Department Of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine. More details here.



Marie Curie Fellowships

The EU operates the Marie Curie Individual fellowship scheme to promote mobility of Early Career researchers. Candidates are welcome in any of the areas covered by academics in the group. We are particularly looking for Fellows with interests in:
(a) structural biology of membrane proteins, particularly ion transporters
(b) structural biology of proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases
(c) structure-based approaches to therapeutic solutions
(d) development of new approaches for X-ray methods including phasing, radiolysis and molecular visualization using X-ray free electron lasers
The applications are for two year  fellowships to move from one member country to another, with the stipulation a) that there is no previous strong association of the person to new host country, in terms of having worked there in  the recent past b) that the person either has a PhD, or has four years postgraduate research  experience at the point of application. Note, you do not have to be an EU citizen to benefit from this  scheme - what is required is that you currently reside in the EU.

PhD Opportunities for International students including Commonwealth countries

For more information use the following link: Scholarships

Celebratory Symposium and Barkla Laboratory Opening

A symposium was  held at the University of Liverpool on 21st July 2011 to celebrate the award of an honorary degree to Professor Sir Tom Blundell, founder of Astex Therapeutics and for the opening of the university's new 'Barkla X-ray laboratory of Biophysics'. Photographs from the event can be found by clicking here.



Recent Scientific Advances in MND Research at Liverpool University

The 10th International Consortium on SOD1 and ALS (ICOSA) meeting took place at the University in March 2012, as reported by Dr Belinda Cupid, Head of Research at the MND Association UK.

Research News

In a recent publication in Nature we report on a bacterial protein-protein complex that sheds light on key electron transfer processes

In a recent Nature Communications publication we reveal the process of ligand binding and aggregation of pathogenic SOD1 mutants. We also discuss the strategy for detection and development of Protein-Ligand interactions in a recent paper published in Current Medicinal Chemistry.

Professor Ryoji Noyori, Nobel Prize winner and President of RIKEN, signed an agreement for a joint international graduate programme that will enable PhD students studying biological and physical sciences at Liverpool to spend up to two years working at one of RIKEN’s institutes.







Environmental Research

Health Related Research

Structural Methods

Computational Biology
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