Dr Megan Wright

Dr Megan Wright

Profile

I obtained my PhD with Prof. Edward Tate at Imperial College London, working on the development of chemical tools to study protein lipidation in protozoan parasites. An EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship enabled me to stay in Imperial for another year. I was then was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to carry out postdoctoral work at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, hosted by Prof. Stephan Sieber. In 2016 I joined the University of Leeds as a University Academic Fellow, a tenure-track position equivalent to Lecturer. My group works on chemical tools to study biological mechanism.

Research interests

Our research uses the creativity of chemistry to understand basic biology and tackle important questions in health and disease. We work in the area of chemical proteomics, developing chemical tools to detect and manipulate small molecule-protein interactions. These interactions range from the modification of a protein with a small molecule, to the binding of a drug to an enzyme, or the interaction of a signal with its receptor. This research is highly interdisciplinary and spans organic and peptide synthesis, protein biochemistry, cell biology and quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics.

We are interested in exploring interactions between molecules directly in living systems. For example, we are studying the interplay between bacterial pathogens and the host: cells communicate and manipulate each other using small molecule signals, yet in many cases we do not know how signals are sensed or we lack the tools to understand the mechanism of sensing. One area of our research is in ‘weaponising’ compounds with photo- or chemically-reactive functionalities to stabilise their interactions with protein targets. Because we are interested in applying tools in live cells, we develop probes equipped with small, minimally disruptive tags. These tags then act as handles for selective labelling of probe-protein complexes for analysis.

Current projects in the group (see our website for more information) include:

  • Developing new chemical tools to understand how human and bacterial cells communicate using peptide signals
  • Understanding the interactions of the cancer super-controller Myc using chemical tools and mass spectrometry approaches
  • Discovering new anti-parasitic molecules and unravelling their mode of action
  • Developing a new protein labelling approach for in-cell imaging and interactome analysis - this topic is the subject of a PhD project for start 2019

 

Qualifications

  • PhD in Chemical Biology, Imperial College London (2013)
  • MRes in Chemical Biology, Imperial College London (2009)
  • MSci, BA Hons. in Natural Sciences (Chemistry), University of Cambridge (2008)

Professional memberships

  • Member Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)
  • Member Royal Society of Biology (MRSB)
  • The Biochemical Society
  • The Microbiology Society

Student education

Module leader for CHEM5315 - Emerging Topics in Chemical Biology. MSc Taught Postgraduate Course in Chemical Biology and Drug Design.

I also teach on CHEM2190 - Structure and Spectroscopy.

Research groups and institutes

  • Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://physicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>