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Research Fellows Directory

Steven Lee

Dr Steven Lee

Research Fellow


University of Cambridge

Research summary

Our research, generally, is interested in building new tools to study biomolecules one-at-a-time by using ultrasensitive optical techniques, put simply ‘we build microscopes.’

In the course of doing so we made an exciting discovery. We have developed a new technique capable of directly visualising the disease-causing species in many neurodegenerative diseases - namely soluble extended beta-sheet oligomers. Through a combination of ultrasensitive optical single-molecule fluorescence and an understanding of the physical principles of dye photo-physics we are able to visualise a variety of unlabelled proteins that are implicated in protein aggregation diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Building on our successes from last year we have developed a new instrument cable of not only detecting these protein clumps (called ‘oligomers’), but by using a dye that glows a different colour depending on it’s environment we have been able to follow the mechanism of how they clump. This may shed new insights into our understanding of how these proteins become toxic during disease progression. We therefore believe it to be of great interest to a general audience in addition to researchers studying neurodegenerative disease, indeed this received some national press coverage when the paper was published.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

3D Quantitative Molecular Mechanisms of Cellular Machinery.

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2013 - Sep 2018

Value: £464,582.81

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