Dr Kevin Hamill, Professor Rachel Williams and Professor Roy Quinlan
My main interest in research is the basement membrane and extracellular matrix. In particular, the proteins and glycoproteins involved in the basement membrane, such as laminins, collagens, nidogens, perlecans and LaNts. My other interests that branch from my research include cancers, stem cell research and tissue engineering, all of which have been shown to be influenced or can influence basement membrane structure.
Throughout my first year of my PhD, I have taken part and helped run an internal outreach project: the award winning “Sunscreen Challenge”. This outreach aims to make people aware of the areas they miss on the face when applying sunscreen and has made national news on a number of occasions. I have helped with this outreach in museums, as well as taking it to schools up in Durham as part of science week last March. We are expecting a journal release for this research (with myself as joint first author) in the coming months, with already published work available to see in the PLoS One Journal.
Determining the role of laminin network status on tissue function
Laminins are a group of heterotrimeric proteins that act as a core component of all basement membranes. One of the major roles of laminins is to form a network on which the rest of the basement membrane can assemble. However, besides this role, not much else is known about the role of laminin network status on tissue function, although there a disease phenotypes for when this network formation goes wrong. My project involves implementing mutations to the network forming domains of the laminin to mimic the disease phenotypes, to allow us to better understand at a molecular level the role of the laminin network and if we can rescue the phenotype in these disease states using peptides that mimic the functional domains of the network forming laminins.