Matthew Parker and Giulia Saredi have been awarded SULSA ECR development funding in the first round of the scheme. The scheme is aimed at helping postdocs with two or more years post-PhD experience develop their own projects and begin the process of becoming independent researchers. The money is used to upskill, start new collaborations, or generate pilot data.
Matthew Parker is a postdoctoral research assistant in Gordon Simpson and Geoff Barton’s labs. He will use the funding award of £3,250 to develop new approaches for selective sequencing of disease resistance genes involved in plant innate immunity.
As plants don't have adaptive immune systems, resistance genes are under intense selective pressure caused by pathogens, and so the resistance genes found in individual varieties of a plant species are very diverse. Sequencing these genes is important for plant breeders because it can help them to identify the genes that explain the resistance of certain varieties to specific pathogens.
Matthew will work with Gordon Simpson (Plant Sciences) and Geoff Barton (Computational Biology) in Dundee to develop software solutions for selective sequencing, and then collaborate with Ian Henderson in the Plant Sciences department at the University of Cambridge to perform the experiments using nanopore long read sequencing.
Matthew said, “I’m really excited to start work on this project, which is in a really important area of plant biology. I’m grateful to Ian Henderson for agreeing to collaborate, and to SULSA for the award which will be extremely valuable to me, as it will demonstrate my ability to design, fund and conduct my own research independently.”
Giulia Saredi is a postdoctoral researcher in John Rouse’s group in the MRC-PPU. Giulia’s research proposal relates to her project ‘Faithful chromatin maintenance and germline integrity in C. elegans’.
Chromatin aberrations have extensively been linked to genomic instability, loss of cell identity and human disease. Giulia’s work focuses on how histone chaperones – proteins which control the timely eviction and deposition of histones into chromatin – preserve genomic integrity. Giulia recently discovered a histone chaperone found in humans and in worms, which is necessary to maintain the integrity of the C. elegans worm germline tissue. Giulia’s data suggest that the new histone chaperone prevents spurious re–activation of genes that are normally kept silent by repressive chromatin marks, including transposable genetic elements.
Giulia said: “I’m delighted to receive this award. It will enable me to learn new techniques such as chromatin-immunoprecipitation with the help of our collaborators at the University of Cambridge, in Eric Miska’s lab. I plan to establish chromatin-immunoprecipitation in the Rouse lab, in order to test whether specific histone post-translational modifications are lost or misplaced in the absence of the histone chaperone I am studying. I believe that learning this new technique will be very helpful in pursuing an independent career.”