Satpal Virdee

Professor of Chemical Biology 

 Satpal obtained MChem(Hons) in computer-aided chemistry from the University of Surrey. This involved a year at Pfizer Global Research and Development working on structure-based and ligand-based virtual screening technologies. He then carried out PhD research with Prof. Gabriel Waksman (FRS). He gained expertise with protein semisynthesis technology, which he used to make synthetic SH2 domains with rewired phosphopeptide specificity. He next carried out postdoctoral research with Prof. Jason Chin (FRS) and Prof. David Komander at the world renown MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Here we pioneered technologies enabling enzyme-independent ubiquitination, which he applied to make discoveries contributing to the conception of the ubiquitin code hypothesis. He set up his own lab at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit in 2011. During this time he has led the field of E3 ligase activity-based probe development. Through application of this technology his lab has made a number of paradigm-redefining discoveries such as the identification of novel E3 classes and the physiological importance of non-lysine ubiquitination.

Current members:

Sunil Mathur

Sunil joined the multidisciplinary Virdee lab as postdoctoral researcher in July 2017. Working at the chemistry/biology interface, Sunil is developing powerful probes for interrogating the behaviour of ubiquitin system components. This will lead to game-changing advances such as the identification of novel therapeutic targets and the assignment E3 ligases to specific substrates.

Lucy Barnsby-Greer

I originally joined the Virdee lab at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit in Dundee as a PhD student back in 2017 and I completed my studies in 2021. I am now continuing the exciting work I started during my PhD as a postdoctoral research assistant in the lab. The main focus of my research is the structural and biochemical characterisation of a novel E3 ligase and working in such a multidisciplinary lab has allowed me to explore many techniques which I previously had not had the chance to study. Another one of my research interests includes ubiquitin-like proteins and their associated E3s which is an additional avenue of research I am working on in the lab.

Marc Andre-Dery

Marc-Andre is driven by the belief that understanding the molecular basis of life will pave the way toward the development of novel therapeutic avenues. Over the years, this led him to train in many biomedical and pharmacological disciplines, and study various aspects of the cell, ranging from apoptosis to gene expression, from cardiology to neuroscience. Nowadays, his attention is drawn to the promises heralded by the emerging fields of chemical biology, and the development of new molecular tools. His current research seeks a better structural understanding of Mycbp2 function, and its impact on health and disease. Some of his other interests include natural and human history, sailing, astronomy, and exploring planet Earth’s many lands, cultures and ecosystems.

Mathieu Soetens

Mathieu joined the Virdee lab in May 2019. He completed his PhD in UCLouvain (Belgium) in April 2019 under the supervision of Prof Olivier Riant and funded by the F.R.S-FNRS (FRIA grant). Originally an organic chemist interested in vectorization and organometallic chemistry, his research interests are now towards chemical biology and the ubiquitin machinery. Currently, Mathieu is developing new probes to better understand the ubiquitin machinery.

Roy Zhang

I accomplished my PhD degree in 2017 in MRC PPU under Prof Sir Philip Cohen’s supervision. I then stayed as a postdoc working on the regulatory role of E3 ligases in the innate immune system. In December 2020, I moved to Satpal's group to study ubiquitylation events from a perspective of chemical biology. I am particularly interested in E3 ligase activity screening and its application to uncover regulatory mechanisms in a complex biological context.

Gaurav Anand

I joined the Virdee lab in September 2020. I received my PhD from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi India in 2017. During my PhD, I focused on the functional characterization of key novel parasite ligands that mediate erythrocyte invasion of Plasmodium falciparum/Plasmodium vivax and validating their potential as malaria vaccine candidates. I then started my Postdoctoral studies at ICGEB/ Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. There I studied malaria parasite biology and vaccine development with a special emphasis on understanding and targeting the molecular mechanisms involved in erythrocyte invasion by the malarial parasites. I wanted transition into a lab involved in application-based research, which brought me to the Virdee Lab. In the Virdee Lab, I am developing a high throughput biomarker platform based on chemical probe technology that agnostically measures Parkin E3 ligase activity. This technology will have great potential for addressing unmet clinical needs relating to the assessment of Parkinson’s disease risk and patient stratification. These studies will also provide crucial information on the poorly understood aetiology of Parkinson's disease in the common sporadic form (90-95%). Other than research, I am interested in poetry, philosophy, history and music.

Daniel Squair

I joined the Virdee lab in 2018 as part of the 4-year MRC PPU PhD programme. Prior to this, I undertook my BSc (Hons) degree in Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery at the University of Dundee. I completed my undergraduate research project in the lab of Professor Daan van Aalten, where I employed an X-ray crystallographic approach towards the development of novel antifungal compounds. During my PhD, I have had the opportunity to apply and modify activity-based probes of E3 ligases; proteins which mediate the transfer of ubiquitin to substrates as part of the ubiquitin system. E3s have great potential as drug targets for diseases including cancer and neurodegeneration, and my project has focussed on elucidating the mechanisms of ‘cryptic’ ligases; E3s which don’t fall neatly into our current classification systems. Outside of the lab, I enjoy getting outdoors and exploring the Scottish hills with my Jack Russel terrier.

Hajra Bibi

Upon completion of a degree apprenticeship at GSK, I studied Immunology at masters level at the University of Oxford. I am now completing my PhD in the field of protein degradation, working with Professor Doreen Cantrell and Professor Satpal Virdee. This exciting collaboration between two labs and GSK will allow me to utilise activity-based probe technologies developed in the Virdee lab, to study E3 ligase activity in T cells; key cells of the immune system.

Ricardo Moreno Ballesteros

Originally from Colombia and raised in Spain, Ricardo moved to Wroclaw (Poland) for his B.Sc Chemistry degree and afterwards he received a European Social Funds scholarship to carry on an M.Sc Chemistry degree at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan (Poland). Supervised by Adam Huczinski, he worked on the design of Salinomycin derivatives with potential anticancer, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. He gained additional experience by enrolling in three Erasmus+ Traineeships. In September 2021 he joined Satpal Virdee’s research group where he works on a very dynamic multi-disciplinary project ranging from chemical synthesis, protein expression, biochemical assays, and cell culture studies. E2s. Ricardo is working on the development of new technology that allows the specific inhibition of ubiquitin system enzymes.

Past members:

Virginia De Cesare (Postdoc)

Now a Future Leaders Fellow at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, University of Dundee

David Wright (Postdoc)

Now a Senior Scientist (Study Director) at Concept Life Sciences, Edinburgh

Adam Fletcher (Postdoc)

Now a Future Leaders Fellow at the Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow

Peter Mabbitt (Postdoc)

Scientist at Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd.)

Kuan-Chuan "Eric" Pao (PhD Student)

Scientist at Virdee lab spinout, Outrun Therapeutics

Mathew Stanley (Postdoc)

Scientist at Virdee lab spinout, Outrun Therapeutics

Daniel Carbajo-Lopez (Postdoc)


Bio coming soon...

Paul Murphy (Internship student)

Now a postdoc in the Clausen lab (IMP Vienna)

Thomas Levy (Erasmus student)

Now a Senior Scientist at Charles River Laboratories

Sjord van Helvert (Internship student)

Clinical Scientist in Molecular Pathology bij Radboudumc

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