Prof Imre Berger elected Fellow of Academy of Medical Sciences

Imre BergerImre Berger, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry and Director of the Max Planck Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology, has been elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences for his outstanding contributions to biomedical science and notable discoveries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the Academy has elected 60 outstanding biomedical and health scientists to its Fellowship for their remarkable contributions to biomedical and health science and their ability to generate new knowledge and improve the health of people everywhere.

Professor Berger’s work includes a number of significant breakthroughs in the fight against COVID-19. His team discovered a druggable pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein that could be used to stop the virus from infecting human cells, blocking transmission and forestalling severe COVID-19 disease. At the height of the pandemic, his team showed that exposing the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to a free fatty acid called linoleic acid locks the Spike protein into a closed, non-infective form inhibiting the virus’ ability to enter and multiply in cells, stopping it in its tracks.

The findings, published in Science, are now being used to develop new cost-effective treatments against all pathogenic coronavirus strains by Bristol-based Halo Therapeutics Ltd. The biotech company, co-founded by Professor Berger, is currently preparing for in-human clinical trials.

Other notable breakthroughs include the discovery that SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals could have several different SARS-CoV-2 variants hidden away from the immune system in different parts of the body, which may make complete clearance of the virus from infected persons, by their own antibodies, or by therapeutic antibody treatments, much more difficult.

Professor Berger is also pioneering new vaccine technologies. His team developed the ADDomer™, a thermostable vaccine platform for highly adaptable, easy-to-manufacture, rapid-response vaccines to combat present and future infectious diseases including COVID-19.  A key benefit of the platform is the speed with which candidate vaccines can be identified and could be manufactured in large quantities without refrigeration, significantly facilitating distribution world-wide. Vaccine innovator start-up Imophoron Ltd, co-founded by Professor Berger, is bringing ADDomer™-based vaccines to the market.

Professor Imre Berger said: “I am honoured to have been elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

“I am also deeply grateful for the great effort by the fantastic scientists, technicians, engineers and students in my team, past and present, and the collaborators whom I have the privilege to work with. As researchers, the pandemic has presented us with immense challenges which has only highlighted the importance of scientific endeavour and medical science. It is therefore rewarding to have had our contributions recognised by the Academy that also seeks to improve and support advances in this field.”

Professor Dame Anne Johnson FMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said: “Each of the new Fellows has made important contributions to the health of our society. The diversity of biomedical and health expertise within our Fellowship is a formidable asset that in the past year has informed our work on critical issues such as tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the health impacts of climate change, addressing health inequalities, and making the case for funding science. The new Fellows of 2022 will be critical to helping us deliver our ambitious 10-year strategy that we will launch later this year.”

The new Fellows will be formally admitted to the Academy on Monday 27 June 2022.

(This news story was originally published by the University of Bristol)

Research Associate in Synthetic Virus-derived Nanosystems (SVNs) for next generation protein and DNA delivery

** Applications are now closed **

As part of the Max Planck Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology (MPBC), a post-doctoral position is available to develop synthetic virus-derived nanosystems as next-generation protein and DNA delivery tools for genome engineering. This post is available for two years in the first instance, with potential to extend to July 2025.

The position is associated with the synthetic and structural biology laboratories of Prof Imre Berger (Biochemistry and Chemistry). The post holder would work in the newly refurbished laboratory for the MPBC, which is housed in the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry and is a shared space with other MPBC researchers associated with the laboratories of Prof Dek Woolfson (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Steve Mann FRS (Chemistry; protocell research). As with all projects in the MPBC, it is anticipated that the work will develop in collaboration with our Max Planck partners in Germany.

The position would be best suited to a talented, creative and ambitious early career researcher with a keen interest in synthetic and minimal biology of protein and DNA delivery systems. Essential skills for this role would include: experience with molecular biology and tissue culture techniques, construction and delivery of multifunctional synthetic gene circuitry in mammalian cells, CRISPR and non-CRISPR gene editing technologies and functional analysis by light and electron microscopy and/or FACS.

Additional info

  • More information, including the job description and how to apply, is available here.
  • For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Imre Berger (imre.berger@bristol.ac.uk)
  • The closing date for applications is 12 April 2022. 

Research Associate in protein design in the cell

** Applications are now closed **

As part of the recently established Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology (MPBC), a post-doctoral Research Associate position is available to develop de novo protein design in bacterial and eukaryotic cells. Funding for this post is available until July 2025.

The position is associated with the protein design laboratory of Prof Dek Woolfson (Chemistry and Biochemistry). The post holder would work in the newly refurbished laboratory for the MPBC, which is housed in the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry and is a shared space with other MPBC researchers associated with the laboratories of Profs Imre Berger (Biochemistry; genome engineering) and Steve Mann FRS (Chemistry; protocell research). As with all projects in the MPBC, it is anticipated that the work will develop in collaboration with our Max Planck partners in Germany.

The position would be best suited to a talented and ambitious early career researcher with an interest in applying de novo protein design in synthetic and minimal biology. Essential skills for this role would include: experience in molecular cell biology in bacteria and/or eukaryotes, including the design and expression of synthetic genes in E. coli and/or HeLa cells or similar; plus biochemical and biophysical characterisation of proteins in cells using light and electron microscopy and/or FACS. Experience in the de novo design, synthesis, and structural characterisation of synthetic peptides and proteins would be desirable, but it is not essential for this post.

Additional info

  • More information, including the job description and how to apply, is available here.
  • For informal enquiries, please contact Dek Woolfson via email: d.n.woolfson@bristol.ac.uk
  • The closing date for applications is 20 March 2022.