Professor Eric Blair

Profile

I studied Biochamistry at the University of Edinburgh and performed doctoral studies at the University of Warwick. I did postdoctoral research in the universitites of Aarhus, Denmark and Uppsala, Sweden. I was a member of the SCientific Staff of the National Institute of Medical Research, London (now the Crick Institute). I was appointed as Lecturer in BIochemistry in 1981, Senior Lecturer in 1988, Reader in 1996 and Professor in 2008.

Responsibilities

  • Director of Student Education

Research interests

The small DNA tumour viruses (adenoviruses, papillomaviruses, SV40 and polyomaviruses) have proved to be important in the study of cell transformation, cell cycle control and tumour formation. In recent years, the adenoviruses have been exploited as potential vectors in gene therapy for inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and cancer. Human adenoviruses (see Figure 1) enter cells by attachment of the projecting fibre proteins to cell surface receptors. We have been studying the initial steps by which adenoviruses enter human cells to help design viruses that can either deliver therapeutic genes into cells to correct inherited deficiencies such as CF or to specifically replicate in and kill cancer cells.

Although the adenoviruses can be harnessed to provide new treatments, in order to survive in humans, they must adopt mechanisms to avoid the immune system. We have shown that the adenoviruses and oncogenic human papillomaviruses (HPV16 and 18) subvert the process of antigen processing and presentation mediated by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The class I molecules (see Figure 2) bind intracellularly processed peptides in the groove of the class I heavy chain molecule. Adenoviruses and oncogenic HPVs encode proteins (E1A and E7 respectively) that repress expression of many genes involved in the class I antigen presentation pathway. We aim to understand the biochemical mechanisms that underlie this immune evasion since this may reveal new targets to eradicate cancer-causing viruses.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • BSc, Edinburgh; PhD 1974, Warwick

Professional memberships

  • Microbiology Society
  • British Society of Immunology

Student education

My teaching in the School is focussed on molecular and cellular biology, delivered to BSc and MBiol students at all levels in the form of lectures practical s and seminars in topics such as cancer biology, molecular virology, gene expression and gene technology.


Studentship information


Undergraduate project topics:

  • Genetic modification of human adenoviruses to develop viruses that specifically replicate and kill human cancer cells.
  • Understanding the role of host cell tumour suppressor proteins in regulating early events in adenovirus entry and gene expression.
  • Scanning the surface of the adenovirus capsid using cell biology and physical techniques.


Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Genetic modification of human adenoviruses to develop viruses that specifically replicate and kill human cancer cells.

  • Understanding the role of host cell tumour suppressor proteins in regulating early events in adenovirus entry and gene expression.

  • Scanning the surface of the adenovirus capsid using cell biology and physical techniques.


Academic roles:

  • School Director of Taught Student Education


Committees:

  • Member of Masters Taught Student Education Committee
  • Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>