Ali Ryan
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Personal profile

Biography

I was awarded my BSc in Biotechnology from Imperial College London in 2004. As part of that degree I spent a year working for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) developing enzyme based bioassays. Not only did I gain experience of techniques which I have employed throughout my career, but it also helped me land my PhD which was part funded by GSK. I continued at Imperial College studying structural biology of important drug transport proteins with Prof Stephen Curry and graduated in 2008.

In 2009, I moved to the University of Oxford to combine my interests of structural biology and enzymology to work on novel antibiotic targets for the treatment of the bacterial pathogens. Here I started to branch out to provide my expertise in molecular biology and enzymology to projects in a number of areas including cancer biology and immunology. In 2012, I moved to Kingston University establishing the Biotechnology lab a core facility for the faculty. At Kingston I continued my interdisciplinary research continuing to work on novel antibiotic targets but also provide expertise to those working on heart disease and vaccine development. In July 2020 I moved to take a senior lectureship at Northumbria University.

Research interests

Through my work at the University of Oxford and at Kingston University I have been worked on projects in a range of subject areas including molecular and applied microbiology, cancer biology, immunology and heart disease.

My main projects focus on the bacterial azoreductases, flavoenzymes found in most bacterial pathogens e.g. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA. Azoreductase research primarily focuses on their use in bioremediation of wastewater from the textile industry which is frequently contaminated with high levels of potentially toxic azo dyes. My interest is in their physiological function as although they are found in bacteria, archaea and mammals little is known of their function in the bacterial cell. We are currently persuing the mechanism underlying their role in resistance to a range of clinically important antibiotics. This combined with their role in bacterial pathogenicity makes them interesting targets for combination therapies to treat multidrug resistant pathogens.

Five of the six most commonly used artificial food colourings used worldwide are azo dyes. Consumption of AFCs by children has been controversial since the 1970s and a study by researchers in Southampton in 2007 linking their consumption to ADHD lead to calls for their ban. Azoreductases expressed by bacteria in the gut play an important role in the breakdown of AFCs to produce toxic aromatic amines. I am part of an international consortium studying the mechanism underlying their metabolism.

Education/Academic qualification

Biophysics, PhD, Imperial College London

30 Sep 200431 Mar 2008

Award Date: 31 Aug 2008

Biochemistry, BSc (Hons), Imperial College London

Sep 2000Jun 2004

Award Date: 4 Jul 2004

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