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February 2019
Newsletter Archive
Staff Information
Health & Wellbeing

Male flies kept awake do not die earlier than those allowed to sleep, leading researchers to question whether sleep is essential for staying alive.

The team behind the research, from Imperial College London, suggest that for flies sleep may not perform a vital biological function in the way that food does.

Dr Giorgio Gilestro, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "One of the reasons sleep is considered essential for life is that all animals sleep, so we were surprised to find some flies that needed so little. We wanted to find out if this was just a peculiarity for a lucky few flies, or whether it was something any fly could do.”

Click here to find out more


Researchers at LSTM and Imperial College London have designed drugs which could help combat any potential new flu pandemic, by targeting the receptors of the cells by which the virus gains entry to the human body.

In a paper published in the Journal of Immunology the team, led by LSTM’s Professor Richard Pleass, show that by engineering a part of an antibody they can target the viral proteins that allow flu to mutate and become so deadly to humans.

Last year marked the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic that claimed nearly 100 million lives worldwide, thus becoming the deadliest disease outbreak in recorded history. Global annual influenza outbreaks account for 300,000-650,000 respiratory deaths, mostly in children and the elderly.

Click here to find out more

Research Associate
Dr Stefania Viola (Prof Bill Rutherford)

Research Assistant
Mr Matthew Haines (Dr Geoff Baldwin), Miss Bahire Kalfaoglu (Dr Masahiro Ono), Ms Shamphavi Sivabalasarma (Dr Morgan Beeby), Miss Annie Forster (Prof Austin Burt), Mr Francis Windram (Dr Samraat Pawar)

Research Technician
Miss Bathsheba Gardner (Dr Carla Siniscalchi), Miss Lauren Russell (Dr Nadia Guerra)

Prizes, Awards & Funding

Prof Steve Matthews has been awarded a £659k Medical Research Council grant: Understanding the structural basis of specificity in mitochondrial lipid transport and its role in drug resistance 01/07/19-30/06/22

Dr Maksym Romenskyy was awarded a 2-year Marie Curie fellowship entitled 
"Genetic basis of emergent social behaviour from genotype-phenotype mapping"  with Dr Robert Endres as the sponsor and Andre Brown the experimental collaborator. Value: £224k

Dr Geoff Baldwin has been awarded a new £6.8M grant to support the training of synthetic biology students, led by Imperial College in collaboration with UCL and University of Manchester. (CDT in BioDesign Engineering funded by EPSRC). 
Prof Tim Barraclough and Dr Chris Wilson were awarded a NERC standard grant on "The Genomic Basis of Adaptation to Virulent Pathogens in Asexual Bdelloid Rotifers”.


Prof Anne Dell and Dr Stuart Haslam: Blundell PA, Lu D, Wilkinson M, Dell A, Haslam S, Pleass RJ. Insertion of N-Terminal Hinge Glycosylation Enhances Interactions of the Fc Region of Human IgG1 Monomers with Glycan-Dependent Receptors and Blocks Hemagglutination by the Influenza Virus. J Immunol. 2019 [Epub ahead of print]
Link to paper: 

Dr Giorgio Gilestro's lab

Rethomics: An R framework to analyse high-throughput behavioural data: Quentin Geissmann , Luis Garcia Rodriguez, Esteban J. Beckwith, Giorgio F. Gilestro 
Link to paper:

Most sleep does not serve a vital function: Evidence from Drosophila melanogaster: Quentin Geissmann*, Esteban J. Beckwith* and Giorgio F. Gilestro
Link to paper:
Video abstract available here:

Prof Pietro Spanu's labThe fungal ribonuclease-like effector protein CSEP0064/BEC1054 represses plant immunity and interferes with degradation of host ribosomal RNA. PLoS Pathogens, in press.Pietro D Spanu, Helen G Pennington, Rhian Jones, Seomun Kwon, Giulia Bonciani, Hannah Thieron, Thomas Chandler, Peggy Luong, Sian Morgan, Michal Przydacz, Tolga O. Bozkurt,  View ORCID ProfileSarah Bowden, Melanie Craze, Emma Wallington, James Garnett, Mark Kwaitaal, Ralph Panstruga, Ernesto Cota

Prof Steve Matthews:

Polo LM, Xu Y, Hornyak P, Garces F, Zeng Z, Hailstone R, Matthews SJ, Caldecott KW, Oliver AW, Pearl LH, 2019, Efficient Single-Strand Break Repair Requires Binding to Both Poly(ADP-Ribose) and DNA by the Central BRCT Domain of XRCC1., Cell Rep, Vol: 26, Pages: 573-581.e5

Andreasen M, Meisl G, Taylor JD,Michaels TCT, Levin A, Otzen DE, Chapman MR, Dobson CM, Matthews SJ, Knowles TPJ 2019, Physical Determinants of Amyloid Assembly in Biofilm Formation., MBio, Vol: 10

Dr Konstantinos Beis: Solid immersion microscopy images cells under cryogenic conditions with 12 nm resolution. Lin Wang, Benji Bateman, Laura C. Zanetti-Domingues, Amy N. Moores, Sam Astbury, Christopher Spindloe, Michele C. Darrow, Maria Romano, Sarah R. Needham, Konstantinos Beis, Daniel J. Rolfe, David T. Clarke & Marisa L. Martin-Fernandez

Dr Michael Hohl (DoLS Visiting Researcher): Increased drug permeability of a stiffened mycobacterial outer membrane in cells lacking MFS transporter Rv1410 and lipoprotein LprG.
•    Hohl M*, Remm S*, Eskandarian HA, Dal Molin M, Arnold FM, Hürlimann LM, Krügel A, Fantner GE, Sander P and Seeger MA. Mol Microbiol. 2019 Feb 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Dr Tony Southall's group published the following paper with collaborators: Neuroblast-specific open chromatin allows the temporal transcription factor, Hunchback, to bind neuroblast-specific loci.Sonia Q Sen, Sachin Chanchani, Tony D Southall, Chris Q Doe

Prof Thomas Meier's group published Dimers of mitochondrial ATP synthase induce membrane curvature and self-assemble into rows. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Feb 13. pii: 201816556. Blum, Hahn, Meier, Davies, Kühlbrandt.

Tech News

Career Pathways:
The Academy of Medical Sciences report ‘Improving recognition of team science contributions in biomedical research careers’ highlighted the importance of team science – defined as output-focused research involving two or more research groups to address increasingly complex and multifaceted research challenges.  They have just launched a #TeamScience follow-up report which includes recommendations for employers about career pathways for skills specialists and #technicians:
For example, University of Glasgow has developed parallel career tracks for traditional researchers and technical staff (Case study 4). Technical roles currently reach a level comparable to that of a senior lecturer and there is an ambition to extend this to the level of professor.  This system offers a mechanism to reward and attribute credit to leading technical experts, recognising the valuable role of skills specialists with the aim to encourage uptake of these careers.
Full report:
Giving a talk:
Allison Hunter S-Lab conference talk on 2 April: Procuring Autoclaves: Lessons from Imperial College

Announcing the 2019 ScientistAtWork photo competition:

The overall winner will receive £500 or equivalent, and the winner and runners-up will have their photo exhibited at Nature Careers’ live event in London in October. Closing date 17 March

Prof Peter Nixon was involved in the formation of a start-up company in March 2017: Alkion Bioinnovations. The company aims to use a new innovative industrial process to produce natural food additives, natural flavours, essential oils & bio-pesticides. Updates on the progress made can be found on their website:

Prof Mike Sternberg's group together with members of Goldsmiths College exhibited at the Bett Show at the Excel Centre (23-26 January 2019) presenting molecular resources for educational use in schools. Two resources were presented i) EzMol: a web-based program to display protein and nucleic acid structures linked to a teaching portal and ii) BioBlox2D: a mobile game based on docking shapes linked to an A-level syllabus quiz.  Imperial issued a press release about these resources.

Women@Imperial Week

Women@Imperial is an annual event that takes place around International Women’s Day (8 March). Over the course of a week we celebrate female staff and students at Imperial, past and present, and raise awareness of the support available in College for women. #imperialwomen

Click here to find out what's going on this year to celebrate Women@Imperial 2019, as well as other events before and after the main week. 

Friday 8 March

Myth-busting the military: what academia could learn, Nadia Soliman

12:30-13:30, Lecture Theatre G34, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, South Kensington campus

For the 2019 Department of Life Sciences International Women's Day Lecture, Nadia Soliman (Faculty of Medicine), will compare her experiences in the British Army and her time as a young academic. Nadia will discuss the myth that women don’t have success in the military and the myth that military training has little relation to academia. She will focus particularly on how the army and academia prepare people for leadership. 

Register now on Eventbrite!

Sir Ernst Chain Lecture

Contact Sandrine Nurboja ( for registration details.
 Staff Survey

The 2019 Staff Survey ‘opens’ on Monday 25 February and closes on Friday 15 March at midnight.

The Staff Survey provides an opportunity for you to share your thoughts on your experience of working at Imperial, and your ideas for where we could do better.  It doesn’t matter where you work, or what job you do – your views are equally important.  Your feedback from the 2017 Staff Survey led to new initiatives and improvements for staff across the College.

The survey should only take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. More details are available online.

Staff Social Events
The EDI Committee want to hear from YOU!

Do you have any suggestions for a Departmental social event? 
Previously we have organised a boat party but this year we would like to do something different. If you have any ideas please let us know by emailing

Equality and diversity at Imperial College - click here.

By completing this course, you will:

  • know what the College is doing to promote equality and diversity and the important part that you play as an employee
  • know what you can do to personally ensure equality and diversity are embedded into your department/area
  • have an understanding of equality legislation
  • know how you can access further information and training

Recruitment and Selection Training
This course provides the basics of what you need to know before you participate in recruiting and selecting staff. It is designed for non-HR people for whom recruitment is a minor, albeit critical, aspect of their role.
Details of the e-Learning course can be found here
You can also apply for 1 day practical session when you have completed the test at the end of the e-Learning course.

HoD Citizenship Awards

Throughout 2019 we will be showcasing staff who were presented with a HoD Citizenship Award at the end of 2018.

For the month of February we have Amanda Ellis..
I am responsible for the day to day administration of four MRes and four MSc programmes based at the Silwood Park campus. I am the first point of contact for prospective and current students, dealing with all aspects of Postgraduate study. I also provide support for the teaching staff, and Course Directors, both at Silwood and our partner organisations; The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, The Zoological Society of London and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.