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- © Ulrich Dahl
"My interest in cancer research and my experience working with in-cell metal catalysis, led me to develop a gold-based catalytic chemistry for targeted anticancer therapies. Then I discovered that expanding into proteomics and in particular crosslinking mass spectrometry, can allow me not just to characterise the effects of my metal-based catalysts on proteins, facilitating the development of better bioorthogonal anticancer catalysts, but also has the potential to address every disease thinkable. This new venture sees me applying my biological chemistry repertoire to the development of new tools for protein structure determination and protein behaviour characterisation inside cells."
Since 2019: IPODI Fellow in the Institute of Biotechnology at TU Berlin (Germany).
2014-2019: Postdoctoral Researcher in the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh (UK).
2011-2014: Postdoctoral Ramon Areces and Caja Madrid Foundations Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh (UK).
2010-2011: Lecturer in Organic Chemistry/Postdoctoral Researcher in the Medicinal and Organic Chemistry Department at the University of Granada (Spain).
2010: PhD in Medicinal Chemistry (Excellent Cum Laude) at the University of Granada (Spain).
2009: Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh (UK).
2004: BSc in Pharmacy (Honors) at the University of Granada (Spain).
I have published articles in high quality journals such as Chemical Science, Angewandte Chemie, and recently an exciting work in Nature Catalysis.
Bioorthogonal chemistry, Metal-based catalysis, Anticancer therapies, Structural proteomics.
E-mail: ana.perez at tu-berlin.de
Instagram: @ana_in_ipodi_land 
Heterologous transition metal catalysis in biological systems - mechanisms of toxicity and a novel purification concept
Duration: 01/09/2019 - 31/08/2021
Mentor: Prof. Dr. Juri Rappsilber, Faculty III, Institute for Biotechnology
Abstract: My passion for synthetic organic chemistry lies in its innate ability to produce new tools. During my time working for Cancer Research UK, I developed biocompatible metal-based catalysts for mediating chemoselective transformations in living cells. The aim was to develop new biological chemistry that could be produced into anticancer therapies, especially for inoperable, terminal brain tumours. We demonstrated for the first time, a locally controlled release of an active compound in a zebrafish brain, using a gold-mediated catalysis. We followed this with the development of a nanoscale biohybrid system, consisting of ultrathin palladium nanosheets with targeted delivery into cells by cancer-derived exosomes, triggering cell-specific (non-small cell lung carcinoma A549) release of an anticancer drug.
Unfortunately however, not all metal catalysts are suitable as anticancer wonder-weapons. Some are highly toxic with multiple undesired side-reactions. Teaming up with proteomics and the pioneering work being carried out in the group of Prof. Juri Rappsilber on crosslinking mass spectrometry for protein structure and interactomics, I am now developing a bioanalytical platform to characterise metal side-reactions on proteins. This will allow us to produce better biocompatible catalytic systems. Integrating metal-based catalysis with proteomics strengthens and deepens the links between TU Berlin Bioanalytics and UniSysCat (Unifying Systems in Catalysis). Furthermore, the application space of highly versatile, bioorthogonal gold catalytic chemistry will be enlarged to solve a substantial problem of crosslinking mass spectrometry and bioanalysis in general, that of how to effectively and efficiently enrich target analytes.