Alex Flynn

Alex Flynn


Second year Wellcome Trust PhD student 

My PhD project aims to understand how bunyaviruses, a large order of enveloped viruses, fuse with the host membrane during their entry into the cell. I want to use that knowledge of fusion to develop new small-molecule inhibitors of bunyaviruses, specifically against Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever Virus (CCHFV). CCHFV is a deadly pathogen, with a fatality rate of 30% and regular outbreaks across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. To achieve this, I will apply cutting edge methods such as detergent-free membrane protein solubilisation, time-resolved cryo electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and virtual high-throughput screening.

Supervisors – Dr. Stephen Muench, Dr. Juan Fontana and Dr. Katie Simmons

In the first year of my PhD, I carried out two 10 week laboratory rotations.

Rotation 1Using amphipols to study bacterial drug efflux protein AcrB under more native conditions
Supervisors - Dr. Stephen Muench and Prof. Frank Sobott
Techniques - Membrane protein purification, electron microscopy, native mass spectrometry.

Rotation 2 - Developing better therapeutics for epilepsy using virtual high throughput screening
Supervisor - Prof. Colin Fishwick and Dr. Jon Lippiat
Techniques - Virtual high-throughput screening using Glide (Schrodinger), Gold (CCDC), Fred (OpenEye) and Autodock Vina (Scripps).

Research interests

  • Working at the interface between structural biology and drug discovery.
  • Investigating the chemical tools for extracting membrane proteins to allow their study them in the most native environment.
  • Improving the sizes of chemical libraries that we can screen virtually here at Leeds. 
  • Making structure-based ligand discovery more easily accessible to non-chemists like myself.



  • BSc Biochemistry with Industrial Placement Year (University of Leeds)