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Dr Youcef Mehellou

Dr Youcef Mehellou

Senior Lecturer

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Available for postgraduate supervision

I joined Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in January 2017 where I am now a Senior Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry. Prior to this, I held a Lectureship position at the University of Birmingham.

After receiving my MPharm degree from King’s College London in 2005, I joined the lab of Prof. Chris McGuigan at Cardiff University for a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry. In early 2009, I moved to Arizona State University (USA) to work as a postdoctoral scientist with Prof. Sidney M. Hecht on the synthesis of unnatural amino acids. In mid-2010, I was awarded an MRC Career Development Fellowship that was held in the lab of Prof. Dario R. Alessi FRS, University of Dundee, until March 2013 when I joined the University of Birmingham.

Current active projects in the lab are:

  • Parkinson’s Disease: PINK1/Parkin signalling.
  • Cancer and Infections: T-cell immunotherapy.
  • Mitochondrial Diseases: nucleoside and nucleotide therapy.
  • Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases: SH2 domain inhibitors.
  • Hypertension: WNK-SPAK/OSR1 signalling.

Further details on these projects could be found on www.mehelloulab.com/research

Qualifications

  • MPharm (Pharmacy), King’s College London, 2005.
  • PhD in Medicinal Chemistry. Cardiff University, 2009.

I obtained my Ph.D. from the Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University. My postgraduate research was carried out in the laboratory of Prof. Christopher McGuigan. The project was on the design, synthesis and development of nucleoside analogues and their phosphate prodrugs (Phosphoramidates) as potential antiviral and anticancer therapies. During this work, I synthesised a large number of nucleoside analogues and their phosphoramidate derivatives and explored their potential as antiviral and anticancer compounds in collaboration with Prof. Jan Balzarini. I used molecular modelling as well as NMR studies to investigate the differences in biological activities seen with some of the nucleoside analogues phosphoramidates.

This was followed by a Postdoc with Prof. Sidney M. Hecht at the Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, USA. My work then was on the development of chemical strategies that allow the incorporation of unnatural amino acids into proteins. This involved the synthesis of unnatural amino acids and ligating them to synthetic dinucleotides.

In late 2010, I took a position as an MRC Career Development Fellow with Prof. Dario R. Alessi FRS at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC PPU), University of Dundee. While in this position, My work was concerned with the regulation of the catalytic activity of kinases, particularly SPAK, OSR1 and MSTs, by the scaffolding protein MO25. I solved the crystal structure of the kinase MST3 in complex with MO25, which shed some light on the activation of kinases by MO25. I also worked on developing high throughput screening assays for identifying small molecules that inhibit various components of the WNK signalling pathway of which SPAK and OSR1 kinases are part of.

Honours and awards

  • MRC Career Development Fellowship (2010-2013).

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Biochemical Society.
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • Member of the Biochemical Society Signalling theme Panel.

2019

2018

2017

2016

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2007

My lab works on unravelling the roles of phosphates in cell signalling and drug discovery. To this end, we dive into cells to understand how protein kinases operate within complex signalling pathways. Such endeavour allows us to identify opportunities for discovering new medicines for diseases with unmet medical needs.

Our research is highly interdisciplinary and involves techniques and skills that span Biochemistry, Protein Crystallography, Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry.

Detailed summary of the lab's research projects could be found here.

Further details about the lab's activities could be found at www.mehelloulab.com.

Lay Research Summary

Our research focuses on understanding the function of proteins that are important in the development and progression of many diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, hypertension and cancer. We utilise the improved understanding of these diseases to discover new drugs that treat them. To successfully achieve our research goals, we employ techniques and skills from different scientific fields including chemistry, biology and medicine. Through this research discovery process, we aim to inspire students and offer them outstanding training opportunities to become successful scientists and researchers.

Collectively, our research and training opportunities will have far reaching impact that covers science, education, health, the economy, quality of life and general well-being.