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Sophie Martucci

Welcome to my ePortfolio!

I am a second year PhD student on a BBSRC funded PhD programme, Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP). I completed a 4 year undergraduate course at University College London in 2015 obtaining a first class MSci in Pharmacology.

I am originally from Warwickshire and returned to the county to complete a PhD in biochemistry at the renowned University of Warwick.

Current Research Work

I am currently working with Dr. Keith Leppard investigating the role of Promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML), a tumour suppressor protein involved in acute promylocytic leukemia (APL).

PML is a pleotropic protein implicated in a range of cellular functions and control such as regulating transcription, viral infection, apoptosis and cell growth. There are seven known isoforms of the PML protein made by alternative splicing of 9 exons. These isoforms have identical N-terminal regions, containing exons 1 to 6 and the RBCC motif, but have varied C-terminal domains. The differences in structure between each isoform is believed to lead to variation in isoform activity and could explain how PML is able to perform so many cellular functions. The importance of PML research is highlighted by mutations in cellular pathways involving PML activity, being connected to numerous pathologies including cancer. Improving the understanding of PML isoform-specific functions could enable novel targets to be elucidated, leading to the possibility of developing new therapeutics for diseases connected to PML biochemistry.

Previous Research Work

As part of my PhD first year, I worked in the MRC Toxicology Hodgkins Building at the University of Leicester for 3 months with Prof. Dean Fennell and Dr. Andrew Marsh. As part of this collaboration, my project tested many compounds synthesised by the Marsh group that were designed to inhibit the RNA helicase enzyme DDX3X. DDX3X was found to be a mutation early on in some patients with malignant mesothelioma, therefore, this project attempted to discover novel treatments for this cancer by inhibiting the new target of DDX3X.

Through the later years of my undergraduate degree my studies focused more on cancer biochemistry and cell signalling pathways, leading to me completing my masters lab project in the Cancer Institute in London. My work investigated the radiosensitising potential of CHK inhibitors in colorectal cancer cell lines.

I also gained other lab experience during my undergraduate degree by undertaking two summer projects at the University of Warwick working alongside Prof. Richard Napier and Dr. Andrew Marsh. Together we tested a library of compounds synthesised by Dr Marsh's group for their ability to inhibit a phosphalipase enzyme iPLA2beta with desires to elucidate novel targets for the treatment of hypertension. We also worked to validate the use of a iPLA2beta homologue extracted from Solanum tuberosum as a model for the human iPLA2beta enzyme. This work led to a poster being presented at the annual British Pharmacology Socitey meeting in 2013 and an abstract being published in the BPS online journal pA2.

Presentations and Conferences

MIBTP Research Poster Symposium, 2016 - Poster presentation
UCL Fourth Year Undergraduate Masters Symposium, 2015 - Talk
UCL Third Year Undergraduate Poster Presentation, 2014 - Poster presentation
Pharmacology 2013, BPS Annual meeting, 2013 - Poster presentation
Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS) Poster Symposium, 2013 - Poster presentation

Professional Development

Within my training year of my PhD, I worked in the University of Warwick, School of Life Science's Outreach department. During this 3 month internship I organised and ran numerous outreach activities as part of team of academics. We visited many primary schools to get the pupils excited about science while educating them on a wide array of topics including plants, paleontology and even neuroanatomy. I also helped run "lab taster days" for groups of students to get experience of working in the lab while trying to inspire the next generation of scientists. This internship taught me valuable skills about science communication and teaching as well as putting me in positions of responsibility, ensuring I was organised and resilient with every task given to me.

Following on from the enjoyment I experienced in my internship in outreach, I have begun demonstrating in undergraduate labs at the University of Warwick and have taken the opportunity to lecture in tutorials for the Science101 course for undergraduates. I am also completing the APP PGR programme for postgraduates who teach to gain accreditation for my teaching and to enable me to develop my teaching and academic skills along side my PhD lab work.