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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Dr Adam Benham, BA (Oxon), PhD

Associate Professor in the Department of Biosciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41259
Fax: +44 191 334 1201
Room number: 2001

Contact Dr Adam Benham (email at adam.benham@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

I graduated from St. Catherine's College, Oxford, with first class honours in Biochemistry and obtained my PhD in transplantation immunology with Prof. John Fabre at the Institute of Child Health, University College, London. I received an EU postdoctoral fellowship to study the biochemistry of antigen presentation with Prof. Jacques Neefjes at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam and then joined Prof. Ineke Braakman's laboratory at Utrecht University, Netherlands, to research mechanisms of protein quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum.

Since establishing my laboratory at Durham University, I have been investigating both the quality control of proteins involved in antigen presentation and the machinery that controls oxidative protein folding. My laboratory is particularly interested in how these fundamentally important biological pathways underpin human and animal health. For example, we have discovered a novel member of the Protein Disulfide Isomerase (PDI) family called PDILT that is required for sperm:egg binding (in collaboration with Prof. Masaru Okabe and Prof. Masahito Ikawa, Osaka University, Japan). This work may lead to the development of new tests and cures for unexplained male infertility and has been covered extensively by the media (see for example http://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2012-05-01/scientists-discover-fertility-gene/). We are also working with Prof. Christina Avellar and colleagues at UNIFESP-EPM, Sao Paulo, to understand the role of the PDI family in the development and function of the male epididymis.

Our work on immune molecules (the Major Histocompatibility Complex or MHC) seeks to explain how these proteins are loaded with their peptide cargo and how oxidative protein folding and ER chaperones contribute to their quality control. This has applications in understanding neoantigen presentation and in the design of cancer vaccines.

Other studies in my laboratory have shown that there is a link between the oxidative protein folding machinery and gastrointestinal disease (in collaboration with clinical colleagues at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough). We are also harnessing new quantitative proteomics technologies (SWATH) to explore the biology of protein quality control in the skin (in collaboration with P&G).

Along with my research commitments, I am the co-ordinator of the Department of Biosciences Level 4 MBiol course and I am module co-ordinator for undergraduate Level 2 Immune Systems. I am the Departmental International co-ordinator for the Science Faculty. I am on the editorial board of the journals "Antioxidants and Redox Signaling" and "Biology Direct" and I serve on the committee for the Society for Experimental Biology (Cell section). I have been appointed as an external examiner for various undergraduate degree courses, and am currently externalling for the Cardiff University School of Biosciences undergraduate degree schemes (Biomolecular).

My research has been funded by the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Arthritis Research UK, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society, European Union, JGWP Foundation and FAPESP (Brazil) and the support of these organisations is gratefully acknowledged.

We have self-funded 1-year Masters (MRes) positions available in our laboratory from October 2019 to work on: the role of Endoplasmic Reticulum stress chaperones in melanoma; the molecular basis of Protein Disulfide Isomerase dysfunction in Cole-Carpenter syndrome; and antigen presentation of neoantigens by MHC class II molecules. Please see the link below for further details

https://www.findamasters.com/masters-degrees/department-of-biosciences/?M0Mgw5k0

A selection of our peer-reviewed research publications can be found below.

International Collaboration

  • Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • Osaka University, Japan
  • Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, US

Research Groups

  • Animal Cells and Systems

Research Interests

  • Antigen processing and presentation
  • Oxidative folding of proteins in the Endoplasmic Reticulum

Publications