The School of Biological Sciences (BIO) and School of Chemistry (CHE) together house most of the biomolecular research facilities at UEA, and vibrant research links exist between them, as evidenced by joint appointments in the areas of structural biology and biophysical chemistry.
Launched in the early 1990s, the Centre for Metalloprotein Spectroscopy and Biology provided an umbrella for a range of successful interactions between UEA chemists (in CHE) and biologists (in BIO) aimed at solving a range of significant biological problems. The Centre, which was the forerunner of the many inter-disciplinary research centres that have sprung up in the UK and abroad in recent years, built an international reputation for excellence in research and pioneering innovative techniques. As its name suggests, the focus of the CMSB was metalloproteins - proteins that contain metals, which are essential for many key cellular processes. In particular, the work of the Centre focused on the activation and redox cycling of inorganic substrates involved in bacterial nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur cycles, and on metal ion metabolism and metal-microbe interactions.
Though the links between chemists and biologists at UEA remain as strong as ever, the focus of their work has broadened significantly in recent years into areas including protein folding, environmental sensing, pathogen-host interactions and cancer biology. To reflect this change a celebratory meeting headlined by the Nobel Laureate Professor Sir John Walker FRS was held in May 2008 and the Centre was renamed the
Through multi-million pound investment from BBSRC, the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust, including a £3.4M JIF award ‘Biophysical Chemistry at UEA' in 2002 led by one of the CMSB's founding directors, Professor Andrew Thomson FRS OBE, the Centre boasts a broad and unique range of biophysical facilities. These include the UK's first pulsed multi-frequency EPR spectrometer, 500/600/800 MHz NMR instruments, magnetic circular dichroism, protein film electrochemistry and rapid reaction kinetics, supported by a host of additional biophysical and bioanalytical equipment, all housed within new/refurbished laboratory space.
At the beginning of 2010 Dr Nick Le Brun (CHE) became the new Director of the Centre. On his new role, Dr Le Brun said ‘I am delighted to be leading the Centre into what I hope and intend will be a new era of success. Molecular scientists at the chemistry/biology interface have a key role to play in developing new understanding of complex biological systems and in applying this knowledge to help solve a range of clinical and environmental problems. The CMSB is well placed to make a tremendous contribution to this'.
Current members of the CMSB include:
- Richard Bowater (BIO, structure of nucleic acids, DNA repair pathways, DNA damage and genome stability)
- Tharin Blumenschein (CHE, Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) of proteins; intrinsically disordered proteins; host-pathogen interactions)
- Julea N Butt (CHE/BIO, Voltammetric and spectroelectrochemical studies of redox-active metalloproteins)
- Myles Cheesman (CHE, EPR (electron paramagnetic resonance) and MCD (magnetic circular dichroism) spectroscopy of transition-metal centres in proteins)
- Tom Clarke (BIO, (Analytical ultracentrifugation, protein:protein interactions involved in biological electron transfer)
- Andrew M Hemmings (BIO/CHE, X-ray structural and mechanistic studies of enzymes)
- Nick E Le Brun (CHE, Biophysical/mechanistic studies of metal storage/trafficking, metallo-regulatory and disulfide bond management systems)
- Fraser MacMillan (CHE, Application and development of EPR (ESR) including multi-frequency, pulsed and double resonance techniques)
- Geoffrey R Moore (CHE, Iron storage proteins; protein NMR; disordered proteins)
- Vasily Oganesyan (CHE, Theoretical and computational methods for advanced spectroscopic techniques; computer modelling of bio-molecules)
- David J Richardson (BIO, The bioenergetics of bacterial greenhouse gas production and bacterial bioenergy)
- Andrew J Thomson (BIO/CHE. MCD and EPR spectroscopy of metalloproteins. Spin labelled membrane proteins. Iron-sulphur clusters as regulators of bacterial genes)
- Nick Watmough (BIO, kinetic and spectroscopic studies of respiratory enzymes, heme protein biochemistry)