Mathew Horrocks (Team Leader)

Mathew was born and brought up in Halifax, West Yorkshire, before studying Chemistry at Oriel College, University of Oxford. He did his Master's project with Professor Mark Wallace, where he was first introduced to single-molecule techniques. Following this, he moved to the University of Cambridge to work with Professor David Klenerman, developing microscopy techniques to study the protein aggregates formed in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Following a brief stint researching in New South Wales, Australia, Mathew returned to Cambridge in 2016 to take up a Junior Research Fellowship at Christ’s College, and a Herchel Smith Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. He moved to the University of Edinburgh to head the ESMB Group in January 2018.

When not in the lab, Mathew enjoys competing in triathlons, and has completed an Ironman in Weymouth (2016).

Takeshi Kaizuka (PDRA)

Takeshi joined the lab in July 2021 as a post-doctoral research associate. He comes from a background of Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and Neuroscience. His research interest is synaptic protein complex and its diversity in the brain. When he was a PhD student, he worked on analysis of the proteins related to autophagy in Prof Noboru Mizushima’s lab at the University of Tokyo, Japan. To study neuroscience, he next joined Prof Toru Takumi’s lab at RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan. He focused on the postsynaptic density (PSD), a large protein complex essential for synaptic function. Using proteome analysis, he found alteration of PSD composition in developing brain and brain with neurodevelopmental disorders. To extend research on PSD, he joined Horrocks group and Prof Seth Grant’s group at the University of Edinburgh. Now he is investigating nanoarchitecture of PSD95 complexes, a core scaffolds in PSD. Combining single-molecule and super resolution microscopy technique in Mathew lab and the workflow of synapse analysis in Grant lab, he is trying to reveal nanoarchitectures of individual PSD95 complex in whole brain.

Ji-Eun Lee (PDRA)

Ji-Eun joined the lab in April 2021 as a post-doctoral research associate. She comes from a background of Physical Chemistry. During her PhD, she focused on determining the single-molecule fluorescence dynamics of various π-conjugated multichromophoric systems to design optimal molecular devices. This also involved developing confocal and wide-field fluorescence microscopy approaches in Prof Dongho Kim’s laboratory in the Department of Chemistry, Yonsei University, South Korea. To broaden her skillset, especially in the subjects of biophysics and super-resolution imaging, she joined Prof Sir David Klenerman and Dr Steven F. Lee at the University of Cambridge in July 2015. Within this post, she was part of the team that developed spectrally-resolved PAINT (points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography) or sPAINT. Using this, she characterised individual α-synuclein protein aggregates formed in Parkinson’s disease. To gain experience in live cell imaging, she subsequently moved to work with Prof Mark Leake at the University of York in 2018. She investigated protein aggresomes showing liquid-liquid phase separation in living cells using millisecond timescale Slimfield microscopy. And she also worked on exploring DNA gyrase activity in living cells associated with DNA topology. Now, in Horrocks group in collaboration with UCB Pharmaceuticals, she focuses on characterising pathogenic structures of tau aggregates, associated with Alzheimer’s disease, within human biofluids using single-molecule and super resolution microscopy methods. She also applies this technology to investigate the capacity of therapeutic antibodies, such as those developed by UCB, to bind to and inhibit the seeding capacity of protein aggregates.

Rebecca Saleeb (PDRA)

Rebecca joined the lab in January 2021 as a post-doctoral research associate. Rebecca comes from a background of Cell Biology and Biotechnology, having completed a BSc(Hons) in Cell Biology at Durham University and a Masters in Biotechnology at the University of Queensland. Her strong interest in interdisciplinary science and passion for understanding the mechanisms of cellular biology through imaging technology led her to specialise in optical microscopy. Rebecca completed her PhD in the labs of Dr Paul Dalgarno and Prof Rory Duncan, working at the biophysics interface to apply next generation imaging technology to the life sciences, and in particular towards understanding the final stages of autophagy. She since spent four years as a bio-imaging specialist/bio-imaging facility manager sequentially at the Edinburgh Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium, Lisbon’s Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown and Queen Mary University of London, where she helped researchers answer diverse questions of biology spanning the fields of neuroscience, cancer, immunology and cardiovascular biology. Rebecca now pursues a dedicated research project within the Horrocks lab in collaboration with UCB Pharmaceuticals, where she aims to use single-molecule microscopy to explore the structure and pathogenic capacity of α-synuclein aggregates, a hallmark of synucleinopathies such as Parkinson’s Disease.

Bhanu Pratap Singh (PDRA)

Bhanu received his Master’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Hyderabad, India in 2009 where he did postgraduate thesis with Prof. Subramanyam Rajagopal on the identification of marker proteins from the mitochondria of the brain, heart and liver cells from type II diabetic mice. He then moved to School of Chemistry of the same institute and obtained his Ph.D. in 2016 working under the guidance of Prof. Musti J Swamy. His Ph.D. research investigated of importance of lipid-protein interaction in reproductive biology by utilizing combined approaches of molecular biology and biophysics. In the same year he was awarded a Royal Society’s Newton International Fellowship to carry out his research with Prof. Cait MacPhee at the University of Edinburgh on studying early-stage kinetics of amyloid formation by Parkinson’s disease associated protein a-synuclein under confined volume. During this time, he also worked in a collaborative project in Horrocks’s lab and became familiar with confocal and super resolution microscopy and developed strong interest for using these techniques for studying biological mechanism at single molecule level. He joined Horrocks group in September 2021 to continue his research on the role of lipid-protein interactions in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. He aims to perform a comprehensive analysis with other cellular components which directly impact these interactions. Outside of the lab Bhanu has a great interest in literature and he also enjoys creative artwork.

Zuzanna Konieczna (PhD Student)

Zuzanna joined the lab as a PhD student in the EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership. She has completed a master’s degree in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry at Edinburgh which included a 12-month industrial placement at AstraZeneca. Her work as a support practitioner has stirred an interest in the human brain and neurological diseases, and she is hoping to use her skillset as a chemist to tackle multidisciplinary research. Her project will aim to study and characterise amyloid structures in the brain. Through combining highly specific and sensitive peptide-based probes (project co-supervised by Prof Marc Vendrell) with a novel microscopy technique (FS-FLIM: Full Spectrum Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy), she hopes to observe cytotoxic proteins in situ.

Katie Morris (PhD Student)

Katie joined the group as a PhD student. Previous to this, she studied Physics at the University of York. During the summer before her final year, she carried out a 10 week placement in the Single Molecule Biophysics group in York where she used TIRF microscopy and a variety of bulk fluorescence assays to investigate the effect of amyloid beta aggregates on both lipid vesicles and cell membranes. During this project Katie developed a great interest in applying her knowledge of Physics to the life sciences. As a result she completed her masters project in the same group where she studied the conformational dynamics of Rep helicase as it shuttles along DNA. Katie now uses super-resolution microscopy and other techniques in her PhD to study PSD95 superclusters, which make up a large proportion of the post synaptic proteome. Understanding the protein composition of these superclusters and variations in them will hopefully lead to better understanding of neurological conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Schizophrenia which have been linked to mutations in the genes encoding these proteins.

Zoe Gidden

Zoe joined the lab as a PhD student in the EASTBIO (East of Scotland BioScience) Doctoral Training Partnership and is co-supervised by Prof. Lynne Regan. Zoe completed her undergraduate degree in Biophysics at the University of British Columbia, Canada and completed a year of research in the Cashman lab studying Alzheimer’s and motor neurone disease as part of her degree. During this year of research, Zoe decided that she wanted to continue to use microscopy techniques to study neurodegenerative diseases. Zoe is now working on developing a new method to fluorescently tag proteins in mammalian cells, so that they can be imaged via super-resolution microscopy, while minimising the effect on the normal function of the protein.

Craig Leighton (PhD Student)

Craig is a Ph.D. student in Dr. Tilo Kunath's group, co-supervised by Mathew. Craig studied pharmacology at the University of Strathclyde, before going on to complete a masters by research degree in biomedical sciences specialising in neuroscience at the University of Glasgow. It was at the University of Glasgow he developed an interest in regenerative medicine, which motivated him to complete his second masters in regenerative medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He is now currently pursuing his Ph.D. with Dr. Tilo Kunath at the Scottish centre for regenerative medicine. His research is in the field of Parkinson’s diseases and focuses on characterising pathogenic structures in cerebral spinal fluid using super-resolution microscopy.

Alex Chappard (PhD Student)

Alex is a Ph.D. student who joined this lab as part of the OPTIMA (Optical Medical Imaging with Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship) Ph.D. Programme. Alex completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, following which he completed a research internship at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. It was during this internship that Alex developed an interest in the detection of protein aggregates, specifically with regards to alpha-synuclein aggregation, which is a key component of Parkinson’s disease. It was this which led Alex to pursue his Ph.D. in this lab, focusing on developing a new super-resolution method for the detection of alpha-synuclein aggregates.

Owen Kantelberg (PhD Student)

Owen joined the Single-Molecule Biophysics group as a PhD student in the SPRINT-MND/MS PhD programme. Before this, Owen studied Biochemistry in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and completed a six-month internship in the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) EMBL node for single-molecule science, Sydney. The research he carried out in UNSW sparked his interest in super-resolution microscopy and inspired his transition from innate immunity-focused research to neurodegeneration. Owen now uses super-resolution microscopy to study the aggregation of TAR DNA Binding Protein-43 (TDP-43) in motor neuron disease (MND) to understand the role of this pathological hallmark in MND.

Noelia Pelegrina-Hidalgo (PhD Student)

Noelia is a PhD student who joined Dr Horrocks lab with a Medical Research Scotland Scholarship, and co-supervised by Dr Tilo Kunath at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine. She is originally from Spain but she attended the University of Dundee and graduated with BSc (Hons) Neurosciences. During her Erasmus year in Sweden, she had the opportunity to join a research group working on neurodegenerative diseases, more specifically Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. This experience was a mind-opening time, where her passion for neuroscience grew exponentially and she decided that this would be her future career. Then, she had the pleasure to work as a lab technician at Dario Alessi’s group. There she had the chance to learn about mass spectrometry and its potential as a research tool. During her PhD, she will be focusing on a-synuclein and its role in Parkinson’s disease as a pathological hallmark. For this purpose, we will collaborate with Oxford Nanoimaging (ONI), our industrial partner, to use super-resolution microscopy. Additionally, we will investigate a-synuclein physiological role in healthy midbrain neurones, since it has been proven to be involved in innate immunity.

Eleanor Mathias (M.Chem Student)

Eleanor is a 5th year MChem student at the University of Edinburgh, undertaking a full-year research project co-supervised by Dr Saleeb and Dr Horrocks. She is working to establish a fully automated multi-channel super-resolution microscopy workflow, with which she aims to characterise amyloid protein conformers and associated proteins in post-mortem brain tissue using DNA point accumulation in nanoscale topology (DNA-PAINT). The wider aims of this research are to contribute to the investigation of fundamental mechanisms of neurodegeneration and dementia.

Previous members:

Junru Yu (2021)

Junru was an MSc in Biological and Medicinal Chemistry student at the University of Edinburgh. Her project involved characterising the physical sizes of PSD-95 complexes and exploring whether the sizes of these vary in different brain regions.

Berta Fatás Rodríguez (2021)

Berta was an MSc in Biological and Medicinal Chemistry student at the University of Edinburgh. She was working on the analysis of amyloid-beta aggregates, associated to Alzheimer’s disease, using single-molecule and super-resolution techniques.

Kelly Wood (2019-21)

Kelly worked on synthesising chemical probes to use in the development of a new super-resolution microscopy technique, for the detection and characterisation of protein aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases.

Toria Twiddy (2020-21)

Toria was an M.Chem. chemistry student at the University of Edinburgh. Her project centred on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and involves using an aptamer to image cytosolic aggregates of TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) in super-resolution.

Aimee Bryce (2020-21)

Aimee was a final year chemistry (MChem) student at the University of Edinburgh. Her final year project focused on using fluorescence microscopy techniques to highlight liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) in UBQLN2.

Sarah Aitken (2019-20)

Sarah was an undergraduate MChem Medicinal and Biological Chemistry student from the University of Edinburgh and joined the group to complete a year-long research project. During her project Sarah studied neuroinflammation caused by amyloid-B aggregation involved in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Yiyun Jin (2018-19)

Yiyun worked with us on a novel alpha-synuclein antibody. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Master's degree in Medicinal Chemistry.

Blair Hoggan (2018-2019)

Blair joined us as part of his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. Whilst here, he worked on a new range of fluorophores for single-molecule detection methods.

Zuzanna Konieczna (2018)

Zuzanna was an undergraduate chemistry student, working towards an MChem in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. Her work as a support practitioner has stirred an interest in the human brain and neurological diseases. She is joining the group to complete a summer research project funded by EASTBio, and help with developing a new sensor to observe protein aggregation.