Dr Matteo Degiacomi

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Job title: Assistant Professor
Division: Chemistry
Organisation: Durham University
Tags: Durham University, Engineering, Fellowship: Early Career Fellowship, Physical sciences, Researcher
Related theme: Engineering Physical Sciences

Biography

Matteo obtained an MSc in Computer Science and a PhD in computational biophysics from Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2013 he moved to Oxford with a Swiss National Science Foundation fellowship and worked under Professor Justin Benesch and Professor Dame Carol Robinson, FRS. In 2017 he started by independent research in Durham.

My Fellowship

In an organism, the function of a protein is connected to its structure, its flexibility, and the way it associates or dissociates into complexes. Changes in any of these, typically caused by mutations, are linked to a wide range of diseases. Multiple experimental techniques aim to characterize protein structure to understand the mechanisms behind their function and malfunction. This structural knowledge is essential to inform the development of new therapeutics to tackle these diseases. Different experiments may however yield incomplete or conflicting information, making their rationalization difficult.

Matteo is developing computational methods to generate models of protein structures while accounting for their intrinsic flexibility, using experimental data as a guide. These models can be then used to guide the design for new experiments and dramatically enhance the interpretation of existing data. These methods will be delivered to the community as software designed to be used by a variety of scientists, ensuring uptake beyond the immediate community of computational biophysicists. Matteo will exploit the new methods to study integrin’s, extremely flexible protein complexes that, when malfunctioning, are involved in cancer and autoimmunity. This will allow Matteo to shed light on how their malfunction is related to cancer metastatic behaviour, potentially paving the way for new therapeutic approaches.

Career benefit of Fellowship

The EPSRC Early Career fellowship has enabled Matteo to start his own research group in one of the top chemistry departments in the UK. This has provided Matteo with all the resources, support, and time needed to develop his independent scientific career, and the exciting opportunity to make substantial progress towards his long term research goals.