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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Timothy Welsh


  Department of Chemistry, St Catharine's College

  PhD thesis: Investigation into the molecular details of biomolecular liquid-liquid phase separation 

  Research interests
  1. Biophysical characteristics of protein interactions
  2. Microfluidics
  3. Protein engineering
  4. Subcellular organisation


Timothy's PhD focused on investigating the physical principles that dictate the ability for proteins to form highly dynamic assemblies within cells, known as liquid condensates. These condensates form when proteins cluster together yet remain in a fluid state where they can rapidly move around and be exchanged with their surrounding environment. This phenomenon has emerged as a widely spread means of subcellular organisation that is responsible for regulating many processes and has been implicated in causing neurodegenerative disease when the process is altered. Through his research, he aimed to better understand the molecular detail of these phase separation events so that we may combat the diseases that thy induce, and so that we may be able to engineer these processes for medicinal benefit.

Timothy's work has resulted in over a dozen publications in leading journals such as Nature Communications and PNAS, as well as contributing science to the formation of two spin out companies from the university.


Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I was inspired to pursue my research interests by a curiosity to better understand how life works on the smallest scale. I have always been fascinated how tiny molecules are able to work together in such synergy that they are able to create something as magnificent as  intelligent life. In my previous years as a researcher I have been pushed to success by my supervisors who have introduced me to skills crucial for success and left me with the desire to further understand the world we live in.


Plans for the future

After graduation, I am working on the commercialization of some research I began towards the end of my PhD and am going to be leading the scientific development team at an early-stage biotechnology company in Cambridge with the goal of enabling targeted delivery of nucleic acid medicines.