Leverhulme Prize award for Tanmay Bharat

Leverhulme Prize award for Tanmay Bharat

Dunn School Group Leader Tanmay Bharat has been awarded £100,000 as one of the winners of the 2020 Philip Leverhulme Prizes.

Tanmay was one of five successful researchers in the biological sciences category awarded every three years, announced in October 2020. The prize comes in recognition of his emerging status on the international stage and trajectory of career success.

Dunn School Head of Department Matthew Freeman, said: Tanmay is one of those rare early career scientists who one can confidently say is already a star, and one who will go on to even greater things.”

Tanmay intends to use the prize money for exploratory research into fundamental biology: “Our research will shed light on a set of ubiquitous, but poorly understood class of molecules found in prokaryotic cells called surface layers. Results from our studies improve our fundamental understanding of the evolution of life as we know it today.

He would like to thank The Leverhulme Trust for the award, and thank Matthew Freeman and the Medical Sciences Division at the University of Oxford for his nomination and ongoing support to his career.   

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Research overview by Tanmay Bharat: 

Our laboratory studies how molecules on the surface of prokaryotic cells mediate cellular interaction with the environment, enabling cellular motility, initiating cellular adhesion to surfaces, and facilitating biofilm formation. Many prokaryotic cells (most bacteria and all archaea) are encapsulated by a para-crystalline array of repeating surface layer proteins (known as S-layers). Since S-layers are the outermost molecules in most prokaryotic cells, they have obvious importance in shaping cellular interactions with the environment. Due to their high-copy numbers on prokaryotic cells, it has been estimated that S-layer proteins (as a group) constitute the most abundant family of proteins on earth. 

We will study fundamental principles of how S-layer proteins are secreted from prokaryotic cells, and how they assemble into a para-crystalline array on the surface of prokaryotes upon secretion. With support from the Philip Leverhulme Prize, we will delve deeper into S-layer biology to understand the general governing dynamics of S-layer biogenesis. We will investigate S-layer structure and dynamics using in situ structural biology, combined with ultrastructural imaging of whole cells.

 

Monday, October 19, 2020 - 09