Sheena Radford is a biophysicist who investigates protein folding — the process by which a protein reaches the unique three-dimensional structure that allows it to perform its function. Sheena’s research is helping to reveal fine details about this process in both lab-isolated proteins and living cells, as well as determining how incorrectly folded proteins can lead to disease.
Misfolded proteins are often unable to perform their roles and may even stick together, forming aggregates that cause cells to malfunction. The resulting diseases, which include Alzheimer’s disease and dialysis-related amyloidosis, lead to significant economic and social burden. By improving our understanding of protein folding, Sheena’s work is heralding advances in their treatment.
Sheena is applying innovative biophysical techniques to measure protein folding over nanosecond timescales and to watch the folding and unfolding of individual proteins in solution. These have allowed her to demonstrate the interactions that help to stabilise partially folded protein structures, shedding further light on the process.
Astbury Professor of Biophysics, Astbury Centre for Structural Biology, University of Leeds
Protein folding, Protein misfolding, Protein aggregation, Biophysics, Molecular conformation