Ben joined the School of Biosciences in August 2014 where his research group specialises in the structural and biochemical studies of cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion complexes.
Dr Ben Goult obtained his first degree in Biochemistry at the University of Sheffield in 1998, before embarking on a PhD in the labs of Dr Tim Norwood (University of Leicester) and Professor Lu-Yun Lian (University of Leicester/ Manchester) developing NMR based approaches for detecting small molecule binding to target proteins, a first step in drug discovery. Following a 2year postdoctoral position at the University of Manchester he moved to AstraZeneca Alderley Park as a Senior Physical Scientist.
In 2005, Ben returned to Leicester to work with Professor David Critchley on the proteins that regulate cell adhesion and migration, in particular the FERM domain containing proteins talin and kindlin; key players in integrin mediated adhesion. In 2014, Ben moved to the University of Kent to set up his own research group.
Cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion complexes, FERM domains
Structural Biology: NMR Spectroscopy, X-Ray Crystallography and Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS)
My research involves the use of biophysical techniques to understand the structure and function of proteins that are involved in the process of Cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion. Such adhesion proteins are increasingly recognised as potential targets for therapeutic intervention in a range of pathologies including immune and vascular disorders, blood clotting, skin blistering, wound healing and cancer.
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Ph.D and Research Master applications from UK, EU, US & Overseas are always considered. Various funding sources can be explored. Post-Doc fellowships: EMBO, FEBS, HFSP, Newton, Marie Curie, Wellcome Trust. Please send your CV and summary of your research interests to: firstname.lastname@example.org
MSc-R projects available for 2020/21
Deciphering the talin code - a cellular code that enables cells to feel their environment All cells in the human body are held in the correct place via adhesion to neighbouring cells, and to a dense meshwork of proteins that surround cells called the extracellular matrix. It is becoming evident that cells interpret classical signalling pathways in the context of the mechanical forces experienced by the cells attachment to this matrix, and this “mechanosensing" of the environment is a major determinant of cellular function. In cancer cells this “mechanosensing” is misregulated, leading to aberrant cell behaviour and metastasis.
The protein talin forms the core of most adhesive structures that mediate cell adhesion to the matrix, holding the cell in place. Furthermore, when the cell adheres to the matrix, talin then functions as a Mechanosensitive Signalling Hub (MSH), engaging different signalling molecules as a function of mechanical force to elicit different cellular behaviours (Goult et al., 2018). This plasticity of talin enables different signalling complexes to assemble on talin scaffolds in different conditions ultimately leading to alterations in gene expression.
The aim of this project is to determine precisely using a combination of biochemistry, structural biology and mechanobiology approaches how talin is able to adopt different conformations to switch “On” and “Off” different cellular pathways. The project will focus on defining the talin interactions that are misregulated in metastatic cell migration.
Additional research costs: £1500
Wiring the brain - deciphering how neurons make the right connections. The human brain is comprised of trillions of neurons, all linked together to form complex networks. Quite how our brains are wired up with such precision is a major question in biology. This project will work on the mechanisms that regulate axon guidance, the process by which neurons send out axons that extend and migrate to their correct targets. The project will focus on defining the talin interactions that are central to its function in axon guidance and neuronal pathfinding.
Additional research costs £1500
Mechanical signaling mis-regulation in metastasis
Cell migration requires the coordinated assembly and disassembly of adhesions between the cell and the surrounding extracellular matrix, coupled to force exerted by the cell which enables the cell to pull itself forwards. While cell migration is essential for the development of multicellular life, it must be tightly controlled. Cancer metastasis is a product of uncontrolled cell migration.
The aim of this project is to use structural and biochemical techniques to characterise the protein-protein complexes that drive these processes.
Additional research costs £1500