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This year’s Doctoral Prize winner in Life Sciences is...

Dr James Daly

Press release issued: 21 November 2022

Dr James Daly wins this year's Doctoral Prize for the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Each year the University of Bristol picks six outstanding theses – one from each faculty – from hundreds of fascinating submissions by doctoral researchers in the last year.

This year, they each receive £500 and a special certificate.

Doctoral students finishing this year had to cope with pandemic lockdowns alongside the everyday challenges all researchers face.

“This year, 725 postgraduate research dissertations were submitted to the exam board," said Professor Robert Bickers, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Research, who chairs the selection board. “The quality of the work being undertaken here at Bristol is world-leading, and it’s a real pleasure to read these reports.

“It’s incredibly difficult to single any out for commendation, but these dissertations really stood out, and show the reach and quality of the doctoral and research masters’ work being undertaken here, and the breadth of training and engagement experience of our research community.

“I would like to congratulate all those who have completed their projects this year, and especially those whose examiners were so very impressed by them that they nominated them for these important awards.”

Professor Tansy Jessop, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education, said: “Doctoral researchers are a vital part of our University community, helping us to create a research-rich environment for students and staff alike. We are fortunate that so many choose to come to Bristol.

“This year saw another crop of brilliant researchers submit work which was full of exciting thinking that will help extend the borders of our knowledge in dozens of fields.

“A huge well done to all those who completed doctorates with us this year and particularly the winners of this year’s Doctoral Prizes.”

The Faculty of Life Sciences winner is... Dr James Daly

Molecular Insights into the Role of Endosomal Recycling in Health and Disease

Recycling isn’t just important on a societal level, but also on a cellular level. While we recycle plastics and glass, our bodies are recycling important biomolecules such as proteins and lipids, reducing demand for raw materials and limiting the build-up of toxins.

Dr James Daly’s PhD focussed on endosomes, which act as waste management and recycling stations inside cells. He suggested a model for how a protein complex that regulates this sorting process protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

When the pandemic hit, Dr Daly became involved in a project investigating how a receptor protein at the surface of cells, Neuropilin-1, interacts with SARS-CoV-2 – the strain that causes COVID-19.

“Together, we demonstrated that Neuropilin-1 facilitates the infection process, which represented a significant advance into the understanding of this virus during the pandemic,” he said.

Dr Daly has now been awarded a Welcome Early Career Award to further explore the role of Neuropilin receptors in viral infection in Professor Michael Malim’s lab at King’s College London.

Dr Daly’s supervisors were Professor Pete Cullen and Professor Jeremy Henley.

Further information

Winners in the other Faculties

  • Engineering - Dr Alice Haynes: In Touch; Affective haptics for embodied communication and connection
  • Social Sciences & Law - Dr Molly Bond: Un-earthing synthetic biology ‘natural’ products. A global ethnography of stevia / ka’a he’ê.
  • Health Sciences - Dr Claire Williams: The natural history of the autoimmune response to zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8) in type 1 diabetes
  • Arts - Dr Luca Castaldo: Truth and paradox: a (mostly) proof-theoretic investigation
  • Science - Dr Thomas Purves: Quantum Theory: Causality, Thermodynamics and Post-Selection
  • Master of Science by Research (MScR) prize - Emma Chereskin: Communication is Key: Testing the social bonding hypothesis in male bottlenose dolphin alliances

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