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Bristol PhD student receives prestigious Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award

Dr Catherine Back

Structural representation of the S. gordonii CshA catch-clamp mechanism

Structural representation of the S. gordonii CshA catch-clamp mechanism Dr Paul Race

Press release issued: 4 May 2018

Dr Catherine Back has been awarded the prestigious Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award for her publication describing the structure and the ‘catch-clamp’ binding mechanism of the protein “CshA” involved in life-threatening infections of the heart.

erbert Tabor Young Investigator Awards are presented to early career investigators who have published the best articles in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), a high profile American journal.

This year Dr Catherine Back has been honoured for her article published in 2017 exploring the structure and binding mechanism of the protein “CshA” (expressed by the oral bacterium Streptococcus gordonii) to human fibronectin. Understanding how CshA binds to fibronectin is important as this mechanism may promote S. gordonii colonisation of damaged cardiac tissues, which is implicated in infective endocarditis, a life-threatening infection of the heart.

Dr Catherine Back, currently a BrisSynBio post-doctoral researcher, worked on the paper during her PhD in the labs of Angela Nobbs and Howard Jenkinson at Bristol’s Dental School. This was undertaken in collaboration with Dr Paul Race from the School of Biochemistry who provided access to the world class facilities needed to analyze the structure of CshA. This highlights how collaborations between schools can lead to high impact interdisciplinary research.

Dr Angela Nobbs said:

“"This is a highly prestigious award, recognising the top five early career researchers from across the globe that have published the best articles in the JBC over the past year. The project itself was not an easy one and to receive such an accolade is testament to the dedication that Cat gave to this study. We are delighted that this research has been highlighted for its impact in the field and are very proud to have supervised such a talented young investigator."

The five awardees will be flown out to the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) in San Diego in April 2018 to receive their prestigious awards. Whilst there they will make a short presentation about their work in a special seminar session.

Catherine Back said:

“I am very honored and pleased to have this work acknowledged and am looking forward to presenting this work at the ASBMB in San Diego.”

To read more about this amazing work read the full article at the JBC.

Further information

The work for this project was supported by grants from the NIH (DE016690 and DE012505), BBSRC (BB/1006478/1) and Royal Society University Research Fellowship Award (UF080534).

BrisSynBio is a multi-disciplinary research centre that focuses on the biomolecular design and engineering aspects of synthetic biology and is one of six Synthetic Biology Research Centres in the UK funded by BBSRC / EPSRC [BB/L01386/X/1].

It is part of the Bristol BioDesign Institute, one of the University of Bristol's seven Specialist Research Institutes.

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