2022 Chemistry Biology Interface Division early career award: Norman Heatley Award Winner
Dr Emily Flashman, University of Oxford
Awarded for the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of oxygen-sensing enzymes in plants and animals, in particular revealing the structural and kinetic properties of plant cysteine oxidases.
Professor Flashman’s team look at the role of enzymes in plant and humans in response to reduced oxygen availability. The team explores how the structure and mechanism of these enzymes helps them control their rate of reaction with oxygen and therefore their ability to act as good oxygen sensors. In both humans and plants, these oxygen-sensing enzymes take oxygen from the atmosphere and transfer the oxygen atoms onto specific target proteins. This acts as a signal for the target proteins to be degraded by the cell. If oxygen levels reduce, the rate of enzyme activity decreases and the target proteins are stabilised.
The consequence of this stabilisation is that cells adapt to the reduced oxygen availability, for example by switching to anaerobic metabolism. This system has been known for some time in humans, and inhibitors of the oxygen-sensing enzymes has led to treatments for anaemia. Excitingly, finding inhibitors for plant oxygen-sensing enzymes or engineering changes to their structure and mechanism could slow their activity and help plants survive flooded (low oxygen) conditions for longer. This will be important in generating crops that are more tolerant of stresses associated with climate change.
|2021||Dr Manuel Müller||King's College London||Awarded for contributions to the field of posttranslational modifications, especially the use of protein chemistry to gain insight into molecular mechanisms of epigenetics processes and cancer.|
|2020||Professor Andrew Baldwin||University of Oxford||Awarded for the development and application of chemical methods for understanding the biology of membraneless organelles.|
||Professor Justin Benesch||University of Oxford||Awarded for developing physicochemical approaches to deliver quantitative insight into molecular chaperones in health and disease.|
|2018||Professor Andrew Dove||University of Birmingham||Awarded for seminal contributions to the chemistry-biology interface through the design and study of novel degradable biomaterials for medical applications.|
|2017||Dr Mark Howarth||University of Oxford||Awarded for the creation of a new family of irreversible protein interactions, with wide ranging application, through engineering genetically-encoded peptides.|
|2016||Professor Andrew Wilson||University of Leeds||Awarded for the development of methods to interrogate and manipulate protein-protein interactions using biomimetic approaches.|
|2015||Professor Mark Wallace||University of Oxford||Awarded for his distinguished work in the area of artificial lipid bilayers, creating a new way of studying membrane proteins.|
|2014||Dr Edward Tate||Imperial College London||Awarded for his contributions to the area of antimalarial drug discovery and for pioneering the application of chemical proteomics and its implementation in the identification
of novel therapeutic targets.
||Professor Rein Ulijn||University of Strathclyde||Awarded for his pioneering work on combining biocatalysis and biomolecular self-assembly in the design of molecular materials including approaches to nanofabrication, enzyme responsive materials and minimal biomolecular self-assembly.|
||Dr Judy Hirst||The Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Cambridge||Awarded for her work as one of the leading international experts on the chemistry of mitochondrial electron transport enzymes.|
||David Spring||University of Cambridge||Awarded for your work on diversity generation in organic synthesis and its application to the discovery of novel bioactive compounds including chemical probes.|
||Molly Stevens||Imperial College London||Awarded for her pioneering work on tissue engineering and regeneration that combines research skills at the interface of biology, chemistry, engineering and pharmaceutical sciences.|
||Ben Davis||University of Oxford||Awarded for his outstanding and innovative contributions to protein-carbohydrate chemical biology.|
Re-thinking recognition: Science prizes for the modern world
This report is the result of an independent review of our recognition programmes. Our aim in commissioning this review was to ensure that our recognition portfolio continues to deliver the maximum impact for chemical scientists, chemistry and society.