Virginia De Cesare awarded UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and MRC-PPU PI position

Published on 10 September 2021

Virginia De Cesare has been awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, one of the UK’s flagship fellowship schemes for early career investigators, in addition to being promoted to an Independent Investigator position within the MRC-PPU.

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Virginia joined the MRC-PPU in 2015, originally working as a postdoctoral researcher within the group of Matthias Trost where she developed a series of new MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry-based strategies to quantitively assess E2 and E3 ligase activity in the ubiquitin pathway in a high throughput manner. Virginia subsequently moved on to work with both Satpal Virdee and Paul Davies, in addition to undertaking a variety of independent academic and industrial collaborations. In Satpal’s group Virginia gained an interest in studying non-canonical ubiquitylation of Ser/Thr residues and characterised ubiquitin esterase activity of a large subset of human deubiquitylases. This led to the discovery that the Machado Josephin Domain class of deubiquitylases display highly specific esterase activity, suggesting that these enzymes could function physiologically to deubiquitylate substrates that are Ser/Thr ubiquitylated.

The award of the Future Leaders Fellowship will allow Virginia to establish an innovative programme of research to identify and characterize the ubiquitin enzymes responsible for non-canonical ubiquitylation events. In addition, Virginia aims to develop a series of robust mass spectrometry tools for the identification of non-canonical ubiquitylation on a proteomic scale. Virginia stated that her goal is to “produce a tangible expansion of our understanding of ubiquitin biology and, consequently, open up new opportunities for pharmacological intervention to treat human diseases in the future.” The value of the funding that Virginia has received is £1.39 million and will fund her laboratory for up to 4 -years in the first instance that can be extended for a further 3 years.

Virginia stated “It is an honour to be among the recipients of an UKRI-FLF fellowship. This prestigious grant will allow me to tackle numerous aspects of non-canonical ubiquitylation and to understand its role in health and disease. The MRC-PPU is one of the leading institutions in the ubiquitin field and a perfect match for undertaking this research project”

Dario Alessi, MRC-PPU Director stated “I warmly congratulate Virginia for the award of this prestigious fellowship and her promotion. This is richly deserved. Virginia has worked so hard to achieve this and I am incredibly excited about the research that Virginia proposes to undertake. It has tremendous potential and synergises with so much other on-going research within the MRC-PPU”.

Story category Awards and accolades, Research