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Dr Pierre Rizkallah

Dr Pierre Rizkallah

Rcuk Fellow

School of Medicine

+44 652248
Geraint Evans Heart Research
Media commentator

I am a Chemistry graduate, at BSc and PhD level. I use Physics applications to study biological macromolecules, a field known as Structural Biology. I have extensive experience with X-ray crystallography and 3D structure determination using synchrotron radiation. I have used the allied techniques of Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) and Circular Dichroism (CD) to shed light on biological mechanisms.

I have served on committees and participated in programs at national and international levels. I have conducted many outreach and media exercises during the course of my career, communicating the immediacy relevance and importance of Science in everyday life.

I had a brief period of experience in the cosmetics industry, leading a production line team.


  • 1984: PhD Chemistry, Nottingham University, UK
  • 1979: BSc Chemistry, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon

Career Overview:

  • Senior Lecturer / RCUK Senior Fellow, Cardiff University, since Dec 2008
  • Protein Crystallography Facility Manager, Synchrotron Radiation Source, Daresbury, UK. 19 Feb 1990 - 30 Sep 2008
  • Higher Scientific Officer, Agriculture and Food Research Council, Reading, UK. 2 Jan - 15 Feb 1990
  • Senior Research Fellow, Liverpool University and Daresbury Laboratory, UK. 1 Nov 1987- 31 Dec 1989
  • Post Doctoral Research Assistant, Leeds University, UK. 1 Dec 1984 - 30 Sep 1987
  • Production Line Manager, International Cosmetics Manufacturers S.A.L., Beirut, Lebanon. 1 Sep 1979 - 31 Aug 1980
















Immune System Proteins:
This work aims to determine the structural factors involved in the cross-reactivity of Thymus-derived cell receptors, TCRs, when they recognise more than one antigen presented in the context of the Major Histocompatibility complex, a mechanism underlying autoimmunity. A second aspect is the degeneracy of TCR binding to various antigens presented by one MHC to allow wide coverage of possible antigens with the limited number of MHCs an individual has. The project involves using X-ray crystallography for solving 3D structures of these entities, and conducting binding studies with surface plasmon resonance, isothermal titration calorimetry and naive T-cell activation. The research is carried out within the T-cell Modulation Group led by Prof Andrew Sewell, in the Institute of Infection and Immunology.

PDB Entries:
Cross Reactivity: 5HYJ, 5C0J, 5C0I, 5C0H, 5C0G, 5C0F, 5C0E, 5C0D, 5C0C, 5C0B, 5C0A,5C09,5C08, 5C07
Type I Diabetes: 4Z78, 4Z77, 4Z76, 4WDI, 3UTP, 3UTQ, 3UTS, 3UTT
GP100: 5EU6, 5EU5, 5EU4, 5EU3
HIV: 4U1H, 4U1I, 4U1J, 4U1K, 4U1L, 4U1M, 4U1N, 4U1S, 4MJI
Melanoma: 4JFQ, 4JFP, 4JFO, 4JFH, 4JFF, 4JFE, 4JFD, 3HG1
NY-ESO-1: 2PYF, 2PYE, 2P5W, 2P5E, 2F53, 2F54, 2BNR, 2BNQ, 2BNU
Others: 4MNQ, 4GRM, 4I4W, 4GKZ, 4GKS, 4GKN, 3O4L, 2HP4, 2BCK

Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein, Aequoria victoria:
The green fluorescent protein is currently used in many biological and biotechnological applications to aid in mapping the distribution of biological entities in cells, via attaching it to antibodies raised against molecules of interest. Upon binding, the GFP carrying antibody fluoresces at specific wavelengths. A program of genetic engineering of the GFP from the jelly fish Aequoria victoria aims at enhancing its fluorescence for better visibility. This research is in collaboration with Dr Dafydd Jones in the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University.

PDB Entries: 4ZIN, 4ZIO, 4KEX, 4KAG, 4KA9, 4J8A, 4J88, 4J89, 4EUL

Calpain Inhibitor Design:Calpain is a multi-domain caspase involved in response to inflammation. It helps white blood cells change shape to cross through epithelial tissue near inflammation sites. Too much activity is associated with arthrhitis after heightened response level. Inhibition of Domain VI had been achieved in the past, elsewhere, working with the porcine enzyme. Here, we are working on the human enzyme, trying to optimise the inhibitor for higher affinity and improved recognition. This research is in collaboration with a team led by Prof Ruedi Allemann in Chemistry.

PDB Entries: 5D69, 4WQ3, 4WQ2, 4PHJ, 4PHK, 4PHM, 4PHN