Brendan Farrell

Brendan Farrell


I am a Wellcome Trust funded PhD candidate, enrolled on the 4-year Wellcome Trust programme titled 'The Molecular Basis of Biological Mechanisms' at the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, here at the University of Leeds. As part of this programme, in my foundation year, I worked in the labs of Dr David Brockwell, Prof Alexander Breeze, and of Prof Adrian Goldman and Dr Stephen Muench, using structural and biophysical techniques including atomic force microscopy (AFM), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and electron microscopy to study a handful of different protein systems. I am now working jointly under the supervision of Prof Alexander Breeze, Prof Adrian Goldman and Dr Stephen Muench for my PhD thesis project. 

Before starting my postgraduate studies, I studied at the University of Oxford, graduating with an intercalated undergraduate Masters degree in Biochemistry in 2015. During my undergraduate studies, I worked in the lab of Prof Simon Newstead (Department of Biochemistry, Oxford) for a summer project, and for my Masters dissertation titled 'Synthesis and Evaluation of Novel Iminosugars as Potential Therapies for the Treatment of Gaucher Disease', I worked in the lab of Prof Nicole Zitzmann (Oxford Glycobiology Institute, University of Oxford).

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Research interests

My research comprises the use of structural tools to investigate the function and regulation of the fibroblast growth factor receptors which are members of the receptor tyrosine kinase superfamily, and of these, fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) in particular. Through their activation, FGFRs have roles in developmental signalling, tissue homeostasis and wound repair, and through their dysregulation by point mutation and gene fusions, among others, have driving roles in a number of developmental pathologies such as achondroplasia, and of a number of cancers. Using nuclear magentic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and electron microscopy, I am studying FGFR3 kinase domain as a client of the cellular Hsp90 chaperone sytem which itself is implicated in cancer development, and in a collaborative study, have gained insights into the recruitment of client kinases to the Hsp90 chaperone. Additionally, I am working with full-length FGFR3 and various other aspects of FGFR biology. 

Broadly, I have a keen interest in the developments of integrative structural biology, of membrane biology, of protein complexes, how protein structure and function are intimately linked, and how knowledge of the workings of protein systems can aid the development of potential future therapies. 


  • MBiochem Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry (1st Class), University of Oxford, 2015

Research groups and institutes

  • Integrative Membrane Biology
  • Structural Biology