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Didi He

Novo Nordisk Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I obtained my PhD degree on Structural and Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh in 2017. My PhD project was investigating the iron metabolism of bacterial nanocompartments using biophysical and biochemical tools. Since then I was awarded a Novo Nordisk Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and joined in Prof Liz Carpenter's Integral Membrane Proteins group in the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at the University of Oxford. 

A large number of gene variants related to diabetes and obesity have been identified using genome-wide association studies in different kinds of human populations. Many of these genes encode integral membrane proteins, such as solute carriers (membrane transporters), which are very challenging for drug design because of the difficulty of membrane protein production, structural and functional studies. To answer how these proteins are dysfunctional or dysregulated in diabetes patients and if drug design is feasible, I will study the structure and function of novel diabetes targets using X-ray crystallography and Cryo-EM.

The SGC has a standardised pipeline to produce and screen membrane protein constructs that can be further structurally characterised in a high-throughput manner. The Integral Membrane Protein group has great experience in working a broad range of membrane proteins. Novo Nordisk has been well-known for diabetes therapeutics. This collaboration has granted me a great opportunity to work on diabetes-related integral membrane proteins, which will be instrumental in structural-based diabetes drug design. I will also work with Novo Nordisk Scientists to produce antibodies against these diabetes targets.