Adam Rolt is a Postdoctoral Researcher based in the Department of Biochemistry. He was awarded an Oxford-Elysium Fellowship in 2018. He discusses his experience of the Fellowship and his research below.
What is your research background?
Following an undergraduate MChem (Medicinal Chemistry with Pharmacology) at the University of Liverpool, I was awarded Wellcome Trust funding for my PhD which was split between the University of Liverpool (PI: Andrew Stachulski) and the National Institutes of Health (PI: T. Jake Liang). My PhD research was interdisciplinary, combining aspects of organic synthesis, chemical biology and cell biology working towards pharmacological inhibition of Hepatitis C Virus.
Throughout my PhD I maintained a strong interest in the biology of ageing, which led to me join the lab of Prof. Lynne Cox at the University of Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher. During this appointment I developed a phenotypic screening platform which was used to discover compounds that alleviate pathological inflammatory signalling associated with cellular senescence.
What are you researching now?
I am most interested in developing new translational methods and platforms in drug discovery to help overcome the attrition rates currently experienced in the pharmaceutical industry. My current research is primarily in chemical biology, developing new methods to measure functional changes in biological systems associated with ageing. In addition to this I am working towards platform to produce small molecule drug candidates using evolutionary methods as opposed to screening.
What has your experience of this fellowship been like?
The experience has been fantastic, the R&D department at Elysium have been very open in encouraging me to pursue my own research ideas and working to support my projects wherever they can. I’m looking forward to travelling out to New York to meet the team.
Why do you think it is important for researchers to engage with industry?
Industry and academia are both suited towards different things, collaborative projects with industry partners can leverage the advantages of both. It enables exciting high-risk/high-reward research and increased speed of translation from discovery towards clinical applications.
Do you have any advice for applicants to this fellowship?
I personally think the most interesting research is done at the boundaries between fields, this for me is where the interesting translational projects lie. Know the research area and project rationale really well, have a goal for where you ultimately want to take your research, and importantly, propose a project that you will enjoy!
What are your aspirations for the future of your research?
The work we’ve proposed has investigative potential from an academic standpoint - development of tools for understanding disease, but also has development potential from a translational standpoint – using these tools to discover new therapies. We’re ultimately hopeful that the techniques we’re developing can be used to develop novel therapeutics targeted broadly to age related diseases.