£3.4M BBSRC funding success for Integrative Biology

The University’s Institute of Integrative Biology is celebrating a quadruple success in recent grant awards from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The funding, which totals £3.4M, will support new Institute projects in proteomics, metabolomics and genetics.

Professor Pat Eyers and colleagues in the Department of Biochemistry have been awarded £1.13M to exploit new tools and proteomics technology to evaluate the addition of a specific chemical group, called sulfate, to proteins. The survival of an organism depends upon the ability of different cell types to communicate with each other by assembling the correct complexes of proteins at the correct time in the correct place. Sulfation underpins so much basic biology yet at present detailed information as to the mechanism of this regulatory mechanism is lacking. This new project aims to revolutionise the current understanding of the process, with potential future knock on effects on biotechnology, pharmaceutical industries and clinical intervention across the world.

Professor Andy Jones has been awarded £305K as part of a £1.2M project with the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Institute for Systems Biology to study the occurrence of post-translational modifications across hundreds of proteomics datasets in the public domain. World-leading bioinformatics resources PRIDE, PeptideAtlas and UniProtKB are involved in the project and Liverpool will lead on building analysis pipelines and performing very large scale analyses.

Professor Greg Hurst and colleagues have been awarded £605K to establish the genetic basis of symbiosis in an insect host. In completing their analysis, the team will achieve the first examination of the genes and systems that microbes require to live within an insect and modify its biology. In addition to the intrinsic scientific interest of the research, their findings will allow them to better exploit symbionts to improve human health and food supply.

Professor Douglas Kell, who heads up the newly formed Liverpool Centre for Metabolomics Research, and colleagues have been awarded £479K through the 2018 ALERT Mid-range equipment initiative call to secure a unique, multi-user piece of liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) equipment for high-resolution metabolomics analyses. The new instrument will be the first in the UK and will be of great benefit to an extensive User Community in Liverpool and beyond.

Institute Research and Impact Lead. Professor Claire Eyers, said: “These are individually, and collectively, outstanding achievements, and testament to the quality of the fundamental bioscience research being conducted with the IIB. These awards recognise a number of the core research strengths in the Institute, notably  Cell Signalling, Metabolomics & Systems Biology and host-microbe interactions.”