Press release

£1.5 million boost for Dundee researcher

Published on 20 October 2023

A University of Dundee researcher has been awarded a prestigious fellowship worth £1.5 million to fund her research for the next eight years

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Dr Chiara Maniaci, a principal investigator based within the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU), has been awarded the highly esteemed University Research Fellowship from the UK’s Royal Society.

The Royal Society bestows these fellowships to support exceptional early career scientists in establishing independent research careers and providing them with the freedom to pursue pioneering scientific investigations.

Dr Maniaci intends to shed light on a novel mechanism she has discovered in her current research, termed "Cleave-to-Modify". Her primary focus will be on unravelling the intricate process by which cells enhance the diversity of their proteins through the introduction of site-specific changes onto a protein sequence.

There are scissors (proteases) in the cells that target proteins with which carry a tag at the beginning (N-terminal ubiquitin-like domain). When these scissors do their job, they cut the protein into two pieces. One piece is the tag, and the other is a changed part of the protein.

Dr Maniaci aims to delve into the regulatory machinery governing this "Cleave-to-Modify" pathway and ascertain the novel biological functions of the liberated tag and the changed part of the protein.

This pioneering research into a previously overlooked mechanism holds tremendous potential for understanding fundamental cellular processes. By comprehending this process at a molecular level, it becomes possible to gain insight into various diseases and develop targeted treatments, potentially benefiting patients in their treatment journey.

"It is a tremendous honour to have been awarded a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship,” said Dr Maniaci.

“I am immensely grateful to the Royal Society for seeing the potential in my work and in my ability as a new principal investigator to lead this highly exciting research. I am thrilled to be a part of the University Research Fellowship community and meet all the dynamic young scientists doing cutting-edge research across the UK. I am very grateful to my mentors and the wider MRC-PPU PI community for the support that helped me to get this award. It is my hope that the work generated from this fellowship will advance the field and have a positive impact on the way we understand human health and treat diseases."

Commenting on the achievement, Professor Dario Alessi, Director of MRC-PPU, said, "It is such wonderful news that Chiara, who only opened her lab in the MRC-PPU in January 2023, has already succeeded in obtaining one of the most sought-after early career fellowships in the UK. The long-term support that this funding provides will enable Chiara and her laboratory to tackle the most challenging and important research questions. Chiara’s research has strong potential to open doors that could uncover new biology relevant to better understanding, diagnosing, and treating human disease."


Hannah Adams

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 385131
Story category Research