Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson


Sarah began her studies at University of Leeds in 2011, graduating with a BSc and MChem in Medicinal Chemistry (2:1) in 2015.

During her undergradute studies she undertook research placement under the supervision of Dr Richard Foster (University of Leeds) studying the design and synthesis of novel anti-thrombotic agents. She also undertook a work placement at Surface Technology Plc (Leeds) where she designed and produced a digital COSHH system for the company as an upgrade from their paper filing system.

During her Master's year, she worked under the supervsion of Dr Stuart Warriner (University of Leeds) researching aggrecan mimics as a therapeutic in osteoarthritis treatment. The research involved the synthesis of self-assembly peptides coupled to functionalised chondroitin sulfate using a copper-free 'click' reaction.

Sarah is now in the final year of her PhD studying a family of retrotransposons termed Alu elements. These short DNA elements have the ability to replicate and expand within the human genome and are predominantely observed in the introns of genes. However, it has been observed that exonisation of such elements can lead to the production of alternative protein isoforms, some of which have been linked disease. The project aims to study the abundance of these exonisation events using bioinformatic methods and additionally study the effect of translated Alu sequences on protein structure and function, achieved through plasmid cloning, protein expression and biophysical studies. This research is being carried out under the supervision of Prof Paul Taylor and Dr Michael Webb (University of Leeds) with additional funding and supervison from Dr Suzanne Dilly (Valirx Plc, London).

Outside of her studies, Sarah is a fitness instructor at Aerial Empire (Leeds) and her interests include bouldering and aerial arts. She is also a science tutor at the GCSE level.

Research interests

Sarah's research interests include the study of biological systems and the undertsanding of biological pathways. In particular, the ways by which they can be exploited for use in medicine. She enjoys hands on lab work involving biological systems as well as the use of biophysical techniques and bioinformatic methods. She also has an interest in scientific writing and editing.


  • Medicinal Chemistry BSc
  • Medicinal Chemistry MChem