Tom completed his PhD with Mike Webb in the Chemistry Department at the University of Leeds where he synthesised unnatural amino acids for use as chemical tools to further the study of histidine phosphorylation. He then completed a Post-doc with Bruce Turnbull (also in Leeds) where he was a part of a project to produce novel virus-like particles mediated by protein-carbohydrate interactions. Following a short spell as a teaching fellow in the Chemistry Department at the University of York, Tom joined the Kawamura group in July 2014. Since then his research has centred around the development of the mRNA-display platform the group uses for identifying cyclic peptide binders of protein targets of interest and he has been involved in numerous cyclic peptide screens. Predominantly focusing on epigenetic enzymes he has also conducted several collaborative projects on diverse targets in addition to his work on the further development of the mRNA-display procedure.
Tom was awarded a prestigious five-year Royal Society University Research Fellowship to be hosted at Newcastle University from early 2022. He will develop new ways to understand how proteins and carbohydrates interact. Projects include determining how human glycosylating enzymes implicated in cancer recognise their protein targets, furthering our fundamental understanding and paving the way for new diagnostics or treatments. Another is developing a novel alternative mode of treatment for the wheat pathogen, Z. tritici the causative agent of septoria leaf blotch disease. Z. tritici causes losses of ~20% crop yield and current fungicidal treatment costs €1B/year in Europe alone – this research will allow the plant to ‘fight off the invader’ naturally, allowing better yield and more sustainable wheat production.