Principal Investigator: Dr. Aneika Leney
Aneika obtained a BSc in Biochemistry at University of York, UK during which she spend a year in industry working for GlaxoSmithKline. Next she joined Sheena Radford and Alison Ashcroft’s lab in the Astbury Centre, University of Leeds, UK, where she completed her PhD in Biological Mass Spectrometry. Her research focussing on amyloid assembly, bacterial pilus assembly and the development of novel technologies to monitor membrane proteins.
After her studies, Aneika relocated to Canada whereby she joined the Alberta Glycomics centre as a post-doctoral researcher under the supervision of John Klassen. Following this, she moved to Utrecht University in the Netherlands where she took a senior post-doctoral role in the laboratory of Albert Heck in the Netherlands Proteomics Centre. Her research focusing on post-translational modifications and the role they have in modulating protein function.
In 2018, Aneika joined the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham to establish her own research group. In 2019, she was highlighted as an emerging leader in the field by the mass spectrometry community. As an Associate Professor, she now leads the Biomacromolecular Structure special interest group for the British Mass Spectrometry Society. To date, the Leney Lab has been funded by the BBSRC, Royal Society, MRC and the Wellcome Trust.
Danielle graduated from the University of Leeds with an Mbiol in Human Physiology. Following graduation, Danielle worked as a research technician at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM). She is now a MIBTP PhD student co-supervised by Tim Knowles. Her project aims to use native and bottom-up mass spectrometry to investigate a cancer drug target, prolyl isomerase (Pin1), specifically, the sites of phosphorylation by kinases such as PKA and DAPK1. Inhibiting Pin1 through enhancement of its phosphorylation might provide an effective strategy in cancer prevention. Outside of the lab Danielle enjoys bouldering, reading and watching TV.
Tom graduated with an MRes in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Birmingham, completing one of two lab rotations within the Analytical and Clinical Metabolomics Group (ACMG) headed by Prof. W. Dunn. Tom subsequently joined the group as a MIBTP PhD student before later transferring to join the Leney group following the transition of the ACMG to the University of Liverpool.
Tom works on a collaborative project with Prof. D Skene (University of Surrey) focussing on circadian driven metabolite rhythms. The application of metabolomic platforms to investigate circadian and behaviour driven metabolite rhythms in humans is an emergent field which, in part, has stemmed from an interest in understanding why certain diseases and metabolic conditions are enriched within shift worker populations and how metabolic processes may be perturbed due to circadian desynchrony. Outside of work you’ll likely find Tom baking, visiting sites of cultural/historical significance or, on a rainy day, playing videogames.
Matt is a PhD student with a Masters degree in Biochemistry from the University of York. He works with Professor Jo Morris and Dr Leney on BRCA1 and its role in breast cancer. DNA is often damaged and when this occurs proteins are recruited to help stabilize and repair the damage. However, frequently in cancer, the repair process does not occur effectively. Matt is aiming to better understand how these proteins are modified during the repair process and the implication that has in cancer. Matt spends most his free time watching TV and movies or goes to the pub with his mates.
Jas is a MIBTP PhD student. Prior to her PhD, she was a research technician in the Leney lab. She has a degree in MSci Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham. During her degree, she did a professional placement year in the Metabolomics lab at The Francis Crick Institute. Jas is now using mass spectrometry to characterise algal proteins, with a focus on using this information for improved cyanobacterial species identification. In her spare time, Jas loves to bake, hang out with her tortoise, and listen to podcasts.
Jedd joined the Leney group in October 2020 as a post-doctoral researcher. Among the oldest organisms on the planet, algae have evolved incredibly efficient mechanisms for harvesting light energy. Phycobilosomes, the ‘solar panels’ that make this possible, are complexes of coloured proteins, the exact composition/structure of which is unknown. Harnessing these mechanisms could pave the way for more efficient energy capture on the macro-scale. Jedd studied these complexes using integrative and complementary mass spectrometry techniques, e.g. native, cross-linking, top-down and bottom-up. When he is not doing mass spectrometry, Jedd spends time reading, playing music and home-brewing beer. Jedd went onto being an Analytical Chemistry teacher at the University of Loughborough.
Kish Adoni was a PhD researcher under the supervision of Dr D. Cunningham, Prof J. Heath and Dr A. Leney. Before joining the group, he graduated with an MSci in Natural Sciences (Chemistry and Biology) from Durham University. His PhD research used proteomics mass spectrometry techniques to investigate the role of PTM’s in cell signalling pathways. Specifically, he looked at how aberrant signalling in various phospho-pathways led to breast cancer, and the nodes of action within these cascades that can be targeted with tailored therapeutics. Away from the lab, Kish’s interests include sport, music and film. Kish went on to do a post-doc in mass spectrometry at Kostas' lab at UCL.
Alex was a MSci Biochemistry student at the University of Birmingham and completed her final year project in the Leney Lab. Prior to joining the lab, Alex did an analytical chemistry professional placement in the LC-MS/MS Bioanalysis department at LGC. Alex joined the Leney lab in August 2021 for a summer studentship through the Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund, where she looked at algal proteins using native mass spectrometry. Her final year project focussed on using top-down LC-MS/MS to study the phycobilisomes of algae. Alex enjoys playing Netball, going to music events and spending time with friends and family. Alex graduated with a 1st and went on to do a PhD in mass spectrometry at the University of Sheffield.
Derick graduated from Howard university with a BSc in biology in 2016. He moved to England right after and worked with Severn Trent Green Power as a feedstock coordinator/operator until he enrolled in the MSc molecular biotechnology program when he got furloughed during the COVID crisis. In the Leney lab, he worked on purifying protein complexes from microalgae for his MSc in Biotechnology. In his spare time, he enjoys watching TV, listening to music, and to stay healthy he usually plays organized group basketball and tennis.
Gemma was an MSc Microbiology and Infection student in the academic year 2020/2021, having completed her undergraduate degree in Human Biology at the University of Birmingham. Her research focused on analysing the growth of red and green algae under different conditions, and the effects of these conditions on the production and structure of phycobiliproteins. Her work also involved analysing these proteins using mass spectrometry. In her spare time, Gemma worked as a healthcare assistant in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, is an officer on the University of Birmingham Air Squadron and enjoys playing piano and socialising with friends.
Sarah completed her final year project Biochemistry MSci project in 2021, Before joining the lab, she did an industrial placement year at AstraZeneca, where she was using chromatographic, mass spectrometric and electrophoretic techniques to characterise drug stability. Her project investigated phycocyanin - a blue pigment protein, used as a food colourant in industry. Outside of the lab, Sarah enjoys attending music festivals and gigs, and going to the gym. She is now working back at AstraZeneca.
Nik was a MSci biochemistry student returning to University from an industrial placement at the Binding Site. Prior to joining the lab, he had experience using a range of chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques to develop new materials to test antibodies used in immunodiagnostic assays. His research project in the Leney lab involved investigating the binding interactions between the enzyme, Pin1, and phosphorylated peptide sequences from proteins implicated in the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Outside of his degree, Nik really enjoyed rock climbing and generally being outdoors with friends. He graduated with a 1st class degree in 2021.
Laura was a 3rd year biochemistry BSc student at the University of Birmingham. Her final year research project involved understanding post translational modifications (PTM) on proteins and how these different PTMs can affect each other. She used mass spectrometry to identify PTMs in the cell. Outside of her degree, she enjoyed being part of the University handball team and the dance society. She graduated in 2021 and went on to do a master's degree at the University of Bath.
Arppana (Sarah) Varughese
Sarah was a third year MSci Biochemistry student currently studying at the University of Birmingham. She did a research literature review project under the supervision of Dr Leney. The project was about post-translational modifications (PTM) of proteins, how this can be researched using mass spectrometry, and how studying this can be beneficial from a therapeutic viewpoint in particular. Outside her studies, Sarah's interests include playing the guitar, football, and travelling. She is now moving into her final year of study.
Anna completed her Bsc in Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham before joining the Leney lab as an Msc Molecular Biotechnology student. Her project focused on how mass spectrometry could be used to rapidly identify cyanobacteria species. This is important because cyanobacteria populations are increasing as a result of climate change, and therefore so are the quantities of harmful cyanotoxins which some species produce. She completed her degree in 2020 and her work is now being written up for publication. Anna now a development scientist for Oxford Nanopore Technologies. Her work during the Leney lab is npw published in Analytical Chemistry!
Monisa completed her MRes project in the Leney lab. She joined us after completing her MSc. degree in Bioanalytical sciences. Her project focused on the structure of the phycobilisome and its re-organization when exposed to different wavelengths of light'. She graduated in 2020.
Alex was a final year MSci Biochemistry student doing her research project in the Leney lab. The project aimed to characterise fluorescent proteins from red microalgae, known as phychobiliproteins. These proteins already have many biotechnological and commercial applications, but the complex structure that they form inside alage, called the phycobilisome, is not fully known. She used a range of biophysical techniques, including FPLC and Mass Spectrometry to understand the composition of the Phycobilisome. Outside of the lab Alex enjoys playing squash and tennis. Alex is now a PhD student at the University of Manchester.
Heather was an MChem graduate from the University of Warwick. Her research work there focused on determining the specificity of bacterial enzymes towards lignin metabolites using chromatographic assays. She completed a 3 month research internship in the Leney lab as part of the Midlands Intergrative Biosciences Training Partnership PhD scheme. Her work in the lab focused on using cross linking mass spectrometry to determine the structure of phycobilisomes extracted from the red algae Porphorydium cruentum.
Manjari was a 2nd year MSci Biochemistry student during her time in the lab. She performed a small research project alongside her studies. Her project focused on using native mass spectrometry to monitor protein complexes and their interaction partners. Her work is now published in Chemical Science!