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Dunn School postdoc starts lab at the University of Exeter

Dr Johannes Rack starts his lab at the University of Exeter thanks to prestigious MRC Career Development Award.

Dr Johannes Rack has been awarded an MRC Career Development Award for his research titled, “Control of genomic integrity and virulence of Aspergillus fumigatus by ADP-ribosylation”. This prestigious award provides fellowship funding for talented researchers who are interested in progressing their research careers as independent investigators, in a medical field. This Spring, Johannes began his 5-year fellowship at the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology at the University of Exeter.

Johannes’ research background lies in post-translational regulation of cellular processes, with this interest stemming back to his PhD at the University of Bergen, where he studied the regulation of acetyltransferase p300. In 2014, Johannes joined the Ahel group at the Dunn school, where he remained until April of this year. During his time at the Dunn School, Johannes worked first on the cellular signals ADP-ribosylation and lipoylation, and their role in redox defence of microbial pathogens. Later, he changed to study the role of ADP-ribosylation turnover in the human DNA damage response. He made valuable contributions to understanding ADP-ribosylation chemistry, its role as a marker of DNA damage, and as a cellular defence signal in microbes which allows them to survive in their hosts.

In his new lab, Johannes will continue to work in the field of ADP-ribosylation, applying his hypothesis that ADP-ribosylation co-ordinates, and acts in the DNA damage response in fungal infections. While fungi can cause serious and fatal illnesses, their threat to human health is often underestimated and ignored in comparison to bacteria and viruses. Overcoming this global health burden presents an area of unmet need in research, despite the rise in drug-resistant fungi variants, such as in the common mould, Aspergillus fumigatus. Johannes plans to study ADP-ribosylation in the Aspergillus fumigatus, aiming to determine how this fungus defends itself against the host. This work may have critical implications in the development of therapies against drug-resistant and life-threatening fungi.

Written by Georgina Fisher (GEO facility) and edited by Isabella Maudlin (Murphy lab) @BellaMaudlin

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