elena-seiradakeSomerville College’s new organising Biochemistry tutor, Dr Elena Seiradake, has been awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship, which will start in January 2017.

The Fellowship was awarded for Dr Seiradake’s research into the role of adhesion G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in brain development. She began working at Somerville College at the beginning of this academic year, replacing Somerville’s previous Biochemistry Tutor Professor Matt Higgins who is now Fellow at Merton College.

Seiradake joined the Oxford University Department of Biochemistry in 2014 as an independent group leader to study the structure and function of cell surface receptors in neural and vascular development.

A major breakthrough in her laboratory revealed that the adhesion GPCR ‘Latrophilin’ forms large structured assemblies in the presence of two other cell surface receptors ‘FLRT’ and ‘Unc5’. Depending on the cellular context, distinct super-complexes with unique functional properties are formed. Seridake’s long-term aim is to understand the functions of distinct receptor-ligand complexes through a detailed knowledge of their structures and signalling properties during neural and vascular development of the brain.

During her research in Grenoble and Oxford, where she was supported on Marie Curie fellowships, she studied several guidance molecules that direct the cell along neural and vascular pathways. These include the Slits and Roundabouts, the ephrins and Eph receptors, the NetrinGs and NetrinG-ligands, and the FLRTs and Unc5s. Her work, which uses a range of structural biology, advanced light microscopy and cell biology techniques, revealed insights into how these molecules direct cell-cell communication and cell behaviour.

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