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Milan Fowkes

DPhil (Oxon); MSc (UWO); MChem (Warw)

Postdoctoral Scientist–Biochemical/Biophysical protein-ligand discovery


I completed my undergraduate master's degree in Chemistry (MChem) at the University of Warwick in 2011. During my final year, I worked on an MChem project involving the radical cyclisation of N-alkenyl-N-2-bromobenzyl acetamides under the supervision of Professor Andrew Clark. I then moved to Canada in 2012 to complete a two-year MSc in Chemistry at Western with a specialization in molecular imaging under the supervision of Dr. Leonard G. Luyt. During that time, I synthesised a peptidomimetic radiotracer specifically targeting the ghrelin receptor for the purpose of PET imaging of prostate cancer.

Having developed a strong interest in molecular imaging, I began working as a research assistant on a collaborative project between the Kennedy Institute (Dr. Ngee Han Lim) and TDI (Professor Paul E. Brennan) at the University of Oxford in 2015. This required the synthesis and characterisation of a series of radiopaque peptides for imaging cartilage breakdown in osteoarthritis. These probes were successfully tested in an in vivo mouse model of this disease.

I began my DPhil in October 2016 under the supervision of Dr. Han Lim (Kennedy), Professor Tonia Vincent (Kennedy) and Professor Paul Brennan (TDI). I completed it in July 2021. During my DPhil project I developed two selective FRET substrates for imaging the activity of ADAMTS-5, a key proteinase in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. My project was not exclusively carried out at Oxford, but also at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. In Copenhagen I worked in the laboratory of Professor Morten Meldal at the department of chemistry for 7 months; using combinatorial chemistry to identify the selective ADAMTS-5 substrates described above. This short project was funded by a Researcher Mobility Grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Current Research

I currently work on the Deltex family of E3 ligases, where I seek to understand their role in cellular signalling (ubiquitination, PARylation), DNA damage repair and disease through ligand discovery (e.g. DEL screening), structural studies (e.g. crystallisation) and biophysical methods (e.g. ITC, SPR). Outside of the lab, I am a research associate at St. Peter's College; providing academic and pastoral support to DPhil students.