Prof. Jonathan Heddle, head of a research team working within the framework of the Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology (MCB), has received a £4.8 million award as part of the Leverhulme International Professorship at Durham University. Prof. Heddle’s research at Jagiellonian University is in bionanoscience and aims to understand, design and build artificial and natural biological nanomachines, a topic which he aims to build on as a recipient of the award.
Living systems are built and maintained through the action of countless biological machines such as enzymes which are made from protein. They exist at the nanoscale (a nanometre being one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair) and many act like tiny robots. Working together, they are responsible for defining features of cells such as self-repair and autonomous motion. Taking inspiration from nature’s nanomachines, Prof Heddle hopes to build artificial cell-like ‘nanorobots’ that are biocompatible and biodegradable and capable of carrying out useful tasks not seen or even not possible in nature. For example, such nanomachines could one day act as ‘gatekeepers’ for our bodies; identifying and destroying cancer, acting as new drug delivery systems and even slow the aging process.
The highly competitive Leverhulme International Professorships enable universities to attract globally leading scholars to take up permanent professorial posts in the UK. The funding will help establish the Centre for Programmable Biological Matter at Durham University, supporting a team of early career researchers and PhD students and building a solid foundation for further development of this exciting new area of research. At the same time, Professor Heddle hopes to maintain strong links to researchers at MCB and the wider Jagiellonian University research society. ‘The research that allowed us to be successful in the Leverhulme International Professorship application would not have been possible without the superb support of MCB, Jagiellonian University, Polish funding bodies and of course the fantastic research team in my lab at MCB. I certainly hope we can continue to work together and that I can be an ambassador for the fantastic opportunities for talented researchers to carry out world leading research that MCB offers’, notes Prof. Heddle.
Professor Danuta Earnshaw, Director of the MCB, commented: ‘I am delighted to share in Jonathan’s success. At MCB we provide a world class institute with state of the facilities. We firmly believe that the training and research available at MCB equip all our researchers with the tools to compete at the highest level on the world stage and Jonathan’s success confirms the reality of our vision. We take pride when one of our MCB family succeeds and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Jonathan in the future’.
Useful Web Links
Jagiellonian University: https://en.uj.edu.pl/en_GB/start
Malopolska Centre of Biotechnology: https:/mcb.uj.edu.pl/en_GB/
Heddle Lab: www.heddlelab.org
The Leverhulme Trust: https://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/
About Jagiellonian University and MCB
MCB is a post-graduate research institute at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. We focus on the gene to protein to function to translation continuum across three broad research areas; host-microorganism-environment, macromolecular interactions and cell-signalling. We are also host to two Max Planck groups. The Jagiellonian University is one of the leading universities in Poland with a history that spans 659 years and has a strong focus on the natural sciences.