Dr Eric Hewitt

Dr Eric Hewitt

Profile

PhD from the University of Manchester in 1994, followed by postdoctoral work at the University of Dundee, University College London and the University of Cambridge. Appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Leeds in 2002.

Research interests

Cell biology and immunology of amyloid disease

The formation of insoluble amyloid fibrils is associated with a spectrum of devastating human disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes and dialysis related amyloidosis (DRA). In these disorders the formation of amyloid fibrils results in cellular dysfunction and tissue destruction.  Understanding the mechanisms of amyloid toxicity is a priority if we are to develop new therapeutics for the amyloidoses.

Our goal is to determine how the structure and physical properties of amyloid fibrils and their assembly intermediates affects the function and viability of cells. This involves a highly collaborative and multidisciplinary approach in which information obtained structural biology techniques is integrated with cell biological analyses.  Currently, we are studying the oligomeric assembly intermediates and fibrils formed by the amyloidogenic sequences, α-synuclein (Parkinson’s), amyloid-β (Alzheimer’s) and β2-microglobulin (DRA).  We are examining the uptake of amyloid aggregates by cells, the pathological interactions between amyloid and cellular components, the induction of inflammatory responses, and the effects of amyloid on cellular physiology and cell viability. These experiments use an array of techniques, including plate-based assays for cell viability and metabolism, live cell confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, subcellular fractionation and proteomics. In addition, we are exploring a novel single molecule platform for the delivery of amyloid aggregates into the cytoplasm of cells with colleagues in the School Electrical and Electronic Engineering. 

Lysosomes in health and disease

Lysosomes are membrane bound organelles whose functions include the degradation of cellular and extracellular material. We are studying the role of lysosomes in amyloid disease and our work suggests that this organelle is a key target for amyloid toxicity. In another project we are studying specialized lysosomes known as secretory lysosomes, which function as regulated secretory organelles in immune cells.

<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, Reading; PhD, Manchester

Student education

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Cell biology of amyloid disease

See also:

Academic roles:

  • PGT Chair of Special Cases Committee - MCB programmes
  • UG Chair of Special Cases Committee - MCB programmes

Committees:

  • Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee

Research groups and institutes

  • Cell and Organismal Biology

Current postgraduate research students

<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>