During my research career I have performed a range of studies that have utilised classical biochemical techniques, biophysical methods of analysis, and molecular biology procedures.
My Ph.D. was supervised by Dr. David Trentham, FRS, at the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, London, UK, where I studied the kinetics of energy transduction in rabbit skeletal muscle. My post-doctoral studies continued the combination of biochemistry and biophysics in the laboratory of Prof. David Lilley, FRS, in the Biochemistry Department of the University of Dundee, Dundee, UK. Studies of unusual DNA structures developed into experiments that were among the first to show that the activity of neighbouring promoters can be coupled through DNA topology.
In 1994 I moved to the laboratory of Dr. Robert Wells, at the Institute for Biosciences & Technology, Texas A&M University, Houston, USA. Various projects identified that repeating triplet DNA sequences undergo a high level of genetic instability in bacterial cells, with observations being influenced by strain genotype and, in particular, mutations to DNA repair pathways. From 1996 to 1998 I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Tomas Lindahl, FRS, (winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Modrich & Sancar) at the Clare Hall laboratories of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK), South Mimms, UK, where I characterised the interactions of human DNA ligases with other proteins.
I arrived at the School of Biological Sciences at UEA in 1998 as a UEA Research Fellow, transferring across to academic staff as a Lecturer in 2002 and Senior Lecturer in 2007. My research group has characterised DNA repair processes from a variety of organisms, feeding into wider interests in mechanisms that influence genome stability. The international reputation of our research is reflected in collaborations with researchers in the USA, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and India.
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- Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, UEA (2007-present)
- Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, UEA (2002-present)
- University Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, UEA (1998-2002)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, South Mimms, UK (1996-1998)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Texas A & M University, USA (1994-1996)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Dundee, UK (1988-1994)
- Ph.D. - University of London, UK (1989); research undertaken at National Institute for Medical Research, London
- B.Sc. - Biochemistry, University of Sheffield, UK (1984)
Key Research Interests
Having trained as a biochemist, my research interests have broadened out to encompass methodologies that involve biophysical chemistry, microbiology and molecular biology. More recently, I have even dabbled with bioinformatics and structural biology! The research focus of my group is macromolecular interactions of bacterial DNA repair proteins and we have focused attention on DNA ligases. Our experiments are performed in vitro or in bacterial model organisms.
Current Research Projects
- Physiological functions of DNA ligases
- RNA ligases of bacteria and viruses
- DNA repair pathways of model organisms
- Relationship between DNA metabolism and genetic instability of DNA repeats
- The interplay between DNA damage, DNA repair and ageing
Life in our research group
Life in our research group We use a range of contemporary biochemical and molecular biological techniques that allow us to study the relationship between DNA metabolism and processes that take place within cells. Our experiments take advantage of well-characterised model organisms, providing great opportunities to link our understanding of biochemical mechanisms to physiological consequences. Much of our recent work has focused on microorganisms, but we are increasingly developing projects that use proteins, cells or tissues from higher organisms, including humans. The majority of our experiments are conducted in a recently refurbished and updated laboratory that is shared with other research groups at UEA that have a biochemical and structural biological focus. These research groups hold a weekly floor meeting that provides great opportunities for cross-fertilisation of research projects. We also regularly host visitors from our international collaborators, with recent visitors being from the laboratories of Dr Jaroslaw Dziadek (Polish Academy of Sciences, Lodz, Poland) and Dr Miroslaw Fojta and Prof Emil Palecek (Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic).
Postdocs & Fellows
I am always happy to discuss possibilities for postdoctoral work and collaborations, particularly with applications involving international partners. Possible funding routes include applying for fellowships, with me acting as sponsor, or grant applications with you as a named postdoc.
- Fundamentals of Molecular Biology and Genetics (BIO-4003A)
- Fundamentals of Cell Biology and Biochemistry (BIO-4004B)
- Physical and Analytical Methods in the Biomolecular Sciences (BIO-4007Y)
- Foundations for Chemistry and Physiology (BIO-4009Y/BIO-4011Y)
- Biochemistry (BIO-5002A)
- Molecular Biology (BIO-5003B)
- Biology in Society (BIO-5012Y)
- Molecular Enzymology in Biology and Medicine (BIO-3C01)
- Evolution in Health and Disease (BIO-3C57)
- Postgraduate Employability Programme (BIO-M82Y)
- Supervisor for Research Projects of final year Undergraduate students from BIO and NatSci, and of Taught MSc students
External Activities and Indicators of Esteem
Editorial Advisory Panel of the Biochemical Journal, since 2010
Genetics Editorial Board of The Scientific World Journal, since 2011
External Examiner at the Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, since 2009 (For course S377, Molecular and Cellular Biology)
External Examiner at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, since 2011 (For Biological Sciences degrees)
External Examiner at Swansea University, UK, since 2011 (For Genetics and Medical Genetics degrees)
Committee member of the Royal Society of Chemistry Nucleic Acids Research Group, since 2005
Committee member of Genes Theme Panel of the Biochemical Society, 2006-2012
UEA Local Ambassador for the Biochemical Society, since 2013; recognised as Local Ambassador of the Year in 2014.
Organiser of the Biochemical Society Annual Symposium for 2008: “DNA damage: from causes to cures”, December 2008, (Held at University of Cambridge, UK. Organised by Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK], Rhona Borts [University of Leicester, UK] and Malcolm White [University of St. Andrews, UK])
Convenor of a Symposium at 42nd IUPAC Congress organised by the RSC, Glasgow, UK: “DNA-Based Electrochemical Devices and Biosensors”, Aug. 2009 (Convenors were Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK] and Jerry Davies [Queens University Belfast, UK])
Co-Organiser of the Biochemical Society Focused Meeting: “Machines on genes: enzymes that make, break, and move DNA and RNA”; August 2009, (Held at University of Cambridge, UK. Organised by Marshall Stark [University of Glasgow, UK], Ben Luisi [University of Cambridge, UK] and Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK])
Organiser of the Royal Society of Chemistry Regional Workshop: “Molecular interactions at the interface between chemistry and biology”; September 2010 (Held at University of East Anglia, UK. Organised by Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK] and 5 others)
Organiser of the Biochemical Society Workshop: “MicroRNAs and their targets: promises and pitfalls”, November 2010 (Held at Charles Darwin House, London, UK. Organised by Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK], Anna Git [University of Cambridge, UK] and Mike Gait [MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK])
Organiser of the Society of General Microbiology Symposium: “Mechanisms of DNA Repair”, April 2011 (Held at Harrogate International Centre, UK. Organised by Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK] and Simon Whitehall [University of Newcastle, UK])
Co-Organiser of the Biochemical Society Focused Meeting: “From beads on a string to the pearls of regulation: the structure and dynamics of chromatin”, August 2011 (Held at Sanger Institute, Hinxton, UK. Organised by Ben Luisi [University of Cambridge, UK], Ian Wood and Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK])
Co-Organiser of the Biochemical Society Harden Conference: “Machines on Genes II: The central dogma at the interface of biology, chemistry and physics”, August 2012 (Held at University of Oxford, UK. Organised by Achillefs Kapanidis [University of Oxford, UK], Mark Dillingham [University of Bristol, UK], Marshall Stark [University of Glasgow, UK] and Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK])
Co-Organiser of the Biochemical Society Focused Meeting: “Biogenesis and turnover of small RNAs”, January 2013 (Held at Royal Society of Edinburgh, UK. Organised by Amy Buck [University of Edinburgh, UK], Javier Cáceres [University of Edinburgh, UK] and Richard Bowater [University of East Anglia, UK])
- Co-Organiser of the Biochemical Society Training Day: “Biophysical Techniques for Probing Metals in Biology”, July 2014 (Held at University of East Anglia, UK. Organised by Nick Le Brun and Richard Bowater [both University of East Anglia, UK])
Enterprise and Engagement Activities
In recognition of my successful involvement in a diverse range of engagement activities, in summer 2013 I was awarded a CUE (Community University East) Project Award.
“Survival of the fittest: evolution, diversity and growth of microbial populations”, this project involved: production of the exhibition Darwin@UEA, a 3-day celebration that took place at UEA; a Science Café at the Maddermarket theatre in Norwich; and the “Cells Alive” exhibition at the Forum Library, Summer 2009 (Funded by the Society for General Microbiology [SGM], this project involved: the production of the exhibition Darwin@UEA, a 3-day celebration that took place at UEA, which was visited by 80 year 9 students and 200 members of the public; a Science Café at the Maddermarket theatre in Norwich [attended by >30 members of the public interested in science]; and the “Cells Alive” exhibition at the Forum Library, Norwich, which attracted >600 visitors. A summary of these activities was published in Microbiology Today in 2011 [volume 38, issue 2, pp. 126-127]).
Science Café at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich: “Charles Darwin, Evolution & Norwich: is there a local legacy?” with Dr Laura Bowater (MED) & Dr Kay Yeoman (BIO), June 2009 (Science Café: “Charles Darwin, Evolution & Norwich: is there a local legacy?” attracted a healthy audience of non-specialists)
A SAW (Science, Art & Writing) Trust event, delivered to Costessey Junior School in Norwich, Oct 2009 (A SAW [Science, Art & Writing] Trust event, which was delivered to 60 year 6 pupils
“Saturday Science” lecture series at UEA, Oct 2009 (The topic “DNA” delivered to and questions answered from >400 interested pupils and parents)
Science Festival at Acle High School, Norfolk, Oct 2010 (Workshops and demonstrations at the Science Festival, attended by >300 pupils and family members)
Demonstrations at the Cromer & Sheringham Coast Festival, West Runton, Norfolk, Oct 2011
Collaborated with colleagues from the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) at the UEA, developing links under the umbrella "Art & Bio", Since 2009 (As part of these activities I collaborated with a film-maker to produce a film about the SCVA Late Shift from May 2011)
Primary academic Adviser for the NRP-UEA iGEM teams, a competition involving synthetic biology projects for undergraduate students, Since 2011 (Details of the projects are available at the iGEM web pages, including details about the Gold medal awarded in 2012, Bronze medal awarded in 2013 and Gold medal awarded in 2014.)
- Since summer 2014, I have helped organise the Science Cafe at the Cut Arts Centre in Halesworth, Suffolk, UK. This event takes place on an approximately monthly basis, aiming to deliver informative discussions about topical science subjects. For an overview see: http://newcut.org/blog/entry/science-cafe-at-the-cut. A summary of discussions at each event is provided at: https://storify.com/RBowater#.
- Course Director for BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry with a Year in Industry
- Module Organiser for BIO-5002A (Biochemistry)
- Module Organiser for BIO-M82Y (Postgraduate Employability Programme)
- BIO Director for Enterprise (from February 2014)