In October 2017, I began my DiMeN DTP studentship working alongside Dr. Rebecca Corrigan and Dr. John Rafferty at the University of Sheffield, with the aim of determining the mechanisms of inhibition of ribosome-associated GTPases by the stringent response alarmone (p)ppGpp in the human pathogen MRSA. The overarching motivation for this project includes the potential for ribosome assembly to be targeted by antimicrobial therapy.
I was fortunate enough to be awarded MRC Flexible Funding to visit the group of Pohl Milón at UPC in Lima Peru to support a four-week laboratory placement during September 2018. The overall aim of this placement was to learn to utilise their powerful and state of the art stopped-flow equipment to study enzyme kinetics, as well as the kinetics of complex formation (ie. Kon, Koff and Kd) between the GTPases in question and the ribosome itself, and expand my own appreciation of the subject of biochemical kinetics. Following the initial week of training, I became independent while using the equipment and as such was able to tailor the experimental conditions to suit my own needs, generating a large amount of high quality data while still being able and encouraged to consult with the other members of this group for advice. In addition to learning this new technique, this placement allowed me to work alongside world leaders in this field, meet some friends for life and forge a fruitful collaboration between our labs that should last for many years. As a result of this, I have expanded the scope of my project hugely which will benefit the quality of my research but also my overall PhD experience.
Aside from the science, this trip abroad to a country so different to ours really served to broaden my horizons and experience living and working in a completely different environment, a skill that is becoming increasingly necessary due to the collaborative nature of science. Needless to say, this trip not only met, but exceeded my academic and cultural expectations and all in all was a fantastic experience. Thanks again to the MRC and DiMeN DTP for this amazing opportunity.