Neil Smith

Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease Faculty of Health & Life Sciences University of Liverpool Room 5.383A 5th Floor UCD Building Daulby Street Liverpool L69 3GA


Dr Brian McDonagh

I graduated in 2007 with a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Liverpool and spent the following four years working in product development for Unilever. During my time there I was involved in pilot plant scale up, high throughput formulation development and the training of others in a variety of techniques. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges this role posed, I wanted to further pursue my interest in bioscience. I decided to apply for an MRes in Clinical Sciences at the University of Liverpool in 2012 and subsequently found several areas of cellular biochemistry that interested me. This led to my application to study the effects of ageing via a proteomic analysis of skeletal muscle as I found the project to involve an ideal combination of research in an area of growing interest and a variety of techniques.

Project title: Thiol Signalling in Skeletal Muscle Ageing

Ageing is associated with a loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength that is generally referred to as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia can impact greatly on the quality of life in the older generation as a result of an increase in frailty. Identification of specific proteins and signalling pathways that are modified during ageing would benefit both the scientific and healthcare communities, allowing for the development of treatments for a variety of muscle wasting diseases.

My PhD project in Musculoskeletal Biology aims to produce a redox profile of ageing in skeletal muscle by defining protein redox targets. Amongst other techniques, mass spectrometry will be used to give a precise and simultaneous quantification of both the target proteins and the redox state of thiol (cysteine) residues. Redox modifications on thiol residues can have an impact on the activity of proteins and subsequently generate a signalling effect.

Additional Activities

Attendance at the Biochemical Society’s Training Day in Quantitative Proteomics and Data Analysis.
Attendance at the ProteoMMX 3.0 conference. 

Where did I get my PIPs

PIPS Internship Organisation Name 

C4X Discovery



When deciding on your internship, what did you want to experience and what did you hope to gain from that experience? 

As I already had industrial experience prior to my PhD, I was happy to undertake roles in novel areas with a view to developing new skills.

Did you discover anything about yourself or make any achievements that you were not expecting? 

The experience enabled me to consider a range of roles after my PhD in addition to science.

Has the internship made you feel differently about potential career options and has it helped to put the skills from research into a broader context?

Yes. I'm happy to move away from science with confidence that I have a variety of skills that can be used in a range of other fields.  A long personal interest has been I.T. and I intend to move into that field in due course.

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